Usual tedious disclaimer:
MCA/Universal owns the rights to the characters of Xena, Gabrielle, Argo, Joxer, Cyrene and whoever else might cross over from their Xenaverse. Any other characters are my creation and merely interact with MCA/Universal's characters. There may or may not be relationships between two consenting women and/or a consenting woman and a consenting man. If you don't like it, kindly leave my web and don't tear the strands.
Story copyright © 1998 by JS Stephens. All Rights Reserved.
Joxer walked through the marketplace with a preoccupied look on his face. He had just won his first big contract, which would allow Diana and Diedra to import delicacies from Athens for their grocery store. Now, all he had to do was to figure out a way to ask Diana to marry him. Ever since they met last year, they had been nearly inseparable, but they had to contend with Diedra, Diana's mother, who watched them like a hawk even though she had given her permission for Joxer to court Diana. Joxer had been living in Cyrene's inn, so he sometimes felt another pair or two of eyes on him--Cyrene's, and Xena's by proxy. As he thought about all this, he happened to look up and see a familiar blonde head across the way. "Of course," he murmured, "Gabrielle can help me figure out what to say."
Joxer hurried over to the stall where Gabrielle was vigorously arguing the price of a quill. Smiling, he stepped up behind her and said, "Telemarcus, just put the quill and anything else the lady wants on my bill. I'll bring you some of Cyrene's sweetbread next time I come through."
Gabrielle turned around slowly to face Joxer. "I can't let you do that for me, Joxer!" she protested.
"Sorry, Gabby, done did." Joxer stood firm, trying to stare Gabrielle down. He almost succeeded, but she turned back around on her own and rapidly placed her order. Joxer handed over several dinars, then signed the chit for the balance with a flourish. "Thank you for taking care of my friend. Gabrielle, are you hungry by chance?"
Gabrielle's eyes lit up as she tucked the package in her carry bag. "Of course I am, Joxer! Xena never feeds me enough!" Joxer chuckled as he put an arm around her shoulders and briefly squeezed. Gabrielle returned the squeeze, then tucked her arm through his companionably. "Let's go find some food then. Hey, I saw this really neat place a few blocks back..."
They walked into the room, which was well lit, clean, and smelling agreeably of fresh bread. After they placed their order, Joxer asked, "So, how are you and Xena doing these days?"
"Oh, pretty well, thanks. I'm selling more stories to the Academy and Xena is still Xena, restless as ever. It's been a rather interesting year, but I won't go into it. You never told me what brings you to Athens, Joxer. And how is Diana?"
Joxer waited to reply until the waitress laid down their food and drinks. "I've been negotiating contracts, Gabrielle. Business is picking up, between the pure courier work and the import/export business. Diana is fine, just wonderful." Joxer reddened slightly as he mentioned Diana. He bravely forged ahead with his question. "Gabrielle, will you help me figure out how to ask Diana to marry me? You're so good with words and all that, certainly you can help me."
Gabrielle smiled at Joxer, saying, "Sure, Joxer. Do you have any idea at all what you would like to say?"
Joxer took a long swallow of wine, then answered slowly, "I don't know. We have an understanding, but now that I've been making a profit for three months in a row, I think I can actually ask her to marry me. I just dread telling Diedra that I want to actually marry Diana."
"I'm sure that Diedra understands."
"But Diana is her only child, her only daughter."
"I see. Well, no time like the present, Joxer. Pretend that I'm Diana and ask me to marry you."
Joxer carefully moved their empty plates and mugs out of the way. No sense in spilling anything, he thought. Nervously clearing his throat, he said, "I've been thinking, Diana, about our future. Um, drat, I can't figure out what to say next."
Gabrielle took Joxer's hands in hers and said quietly, "Just tell her what's in your heart, Joxer, and you'll do fine. At least you won't be deciding what to say while making battle plans like Xena and I did."
Joxer cleared his throat again. "Okay, here goes." Deep breath. "You know that story of how everyone has their soulmate? Well, I feel that you are my soulmate and I long to be joined back with you, to spend our lives together--"
"How romantic." Joxer and Gabrielle both jerked their heads around as Xena stood there looking down at them. "Gee, Gabrielle, I thought that I was your one and only."
"Ah, Xena, I was just practicing proposing to Gabrielle. I mean that I was practicing with Gabrielle, well, um..." Joxer's voice trailed off.
Xena merely lifted an amused eyebrow as Gabrielle finally explained, "Joxer was trying to figure out how to propose to Diana."
"Oh, I see." Xena finally smiled and sat down next to Gabrielle. "So, you're finally going to make an honest woman of Diana. Pray, continue."
Joxer looked at the women, trying to get back on track. "Okay, here goes. Again. Diana, or in this case, Diana stand-in, it is said that everyone has a soulmate. I have traveled around Greece and have--watch out!"
The waitress tripped over a customer's leg, sending a shower of wine over Gabrielle and Xena. "Oh, dear, ladies, I'm terribly sorry, but I seem to have tripped," the young woman said. "I guess I'm just too clumsy for my own good."
"Not a problem," grumbled Joxer under his breath. Xena grabbed the serving towel from the waitress and started mopping up the mess as Gabrielle tried to reassure her that she had not harmed them. Joxer was just glad that the wine missed his new shirt and pants. The mess was finally cleaned up. The waitress looked carefully at Joxer, then finally asked, "What is your name, sir?"
"Joxer of Amphipolis," he replied absently. Then, noticing her curious look, he asked politely, "have we met before?"
"Oh, no, I suppose I was mistaken. You just looked like a man who came in here a few weeks back." She paused, picking up wet towels, then continued, "I heard you propose to this woman and it confused me, for the other gentleman was sweet on me, or so I thought."
Joxer looked at her for a long moment, then asked carefully, "Did he wear a suit of black leather?"
"Why, yes, he did! He said his name was Jett, and that he would be back in a few weeks. I thought you were Jett."
Joxer asked delicately, "You're not, um,..."
"No sir! we never did that! Jett was a perfect gentleman to me. So you can understand my confusion when you were proposing to Diana here."
Gabrielle spoke up. "I'm Gabrielle, not Diana."
"No, I understand your confusion now. Joxer and I are friends, and I was letting him practice his proposal to Diana by proposing to me first. By the way, this is Xena, my partner."
Xena smiled at the waitress. "I was confused too, since I didn't think that Gabrielle could handle multiple marriages."
"What?! Never mind, I don't want to know. Um, my name is Sarah, and I need to go on before I get into trouble. Does anyone need anything else?"
"Yes, I'll have some ale and fruit, please." Xena said.
"Ale and fruit, coming right up." Sarah hastily departed as the trio watched her. Joxer mused, "I wonder what my dear brother Jett is up to these days? He promised me that he would not be an assassin, that he would pick a different line of work."
"Who knows? I haven't heard of any dastardly deeds through the bards' network lately. Let's hope he has found something more legitimate to do," Gabrielle added.
Sarah came back and laid Xena's order on the table, then left without saying anything else. Joxer said, "She is rather pretty. Jett did always like brunettes, so maybe he is doing something worthwhile to win her love."
Gabrielle smiled. "Joxer, you are such a romantic."
"Do you think Diana would agree?"
"Yes," chorused Gabrielle and Xena.
Meanwhile, back in Amphipolis, Diana was sitting at a table in the tavern with her mother, Diedra, waiting for Cyrene to finish in the kitchen to join them. "Mom, it looks like a good harvest this year. With Joxer's contracts and delivery services, I think we can expand our business again. Have you ever thought about building barns to store extra dry food against famines?"
Diedra smiled proudly at her daughter. "No, we've never had any need to them, but it wouldn't be such a bad idea. Maybe you and Joxer should try to negotiate a contract to supply the Amazon army."
"Oh, Mom, you know that the Amazons are always self-sufficient. They have excellent farm land and have never bought from the outside."
"Yes, Diana, I know, but I suppose it was wishful thinking. Here comes Cyrene." Cyrene joined them, apologizing for taking so long. "No bother, Cyrene. Have you heard from your daughters lately?" Diedra asked.
"I received a note yesterday from Gabrielle. She said that she and Xena should be here sometime soon, probably in the next week or so. They are doing fine after all their recent adventures and Gabrielle was taking a number of scrolls to Athens to sell. Have you heard from Joxer yet?"
Diana answered, "Not lately, but I assume that he will be back any day now. Hey, there he is!" She got up and greeted Joxer, who was wearing a black leather suit she had never seen before. "Joxer, sweetheart!" she murmured as she hugged and kissed him.
He pulled out of the embrace, looking confused. "Who are you and why are you kissing me? Not that I don't enjoy it," he added hastily.
Diana stepped back and pulled herself into a proper warrior stance. "Joxer," she said in a low, dangerous voice, "explain yourself before you face the wrath of an Amazon warrior."
The man smiled slightly. "Miss Amazon, I am not Joxer, I am his brother Jett. I heard that he lived here."
"Pardon me for mistaking you for Joxer."
Jett smiled more broadly. "You must be acquainted with my little brother, then. How is he doing?"
"Perhaps you would like to join me. I was sitting with my mother, Diedra, and Xena's mother, Cyrene. Cyrene owns the inn and tavern. Would you like something to eat and drink?"
"Yes, I am rather hungry. I take it that you and Joxer are more than just friends."
Diana smiled. "Yes, we are sweethearts. I hope that Joxer will get the courage to asked me to marry him, or I'll just have to revert back to my Amazon ways and ask for his hand in marriage. This way, Jett." She led Jett to the table and made introductions. "Mother, Cyrene, this is Jett, brother of Joxer. Jett, this is Cyrene, owner of this tavern and inn and this is my mother, Diedra, owner of the best grocery store in the area."
Cyrene signaled for a waitress. Jett placed his order, then turned back to the women. "I hear that my brother is doing quite well these days. I was hoping to ask him a favor, actually. Does anyone know when he will be back?"
"Within a day or so, Jett." said Diana. "He was going to Athens to conduct some business."
Diedra looked Jett over with a critical eye, trying to figure out where she had heard of Jett before. She remembered and nonchalantly pulled her knife out and started cleaning her fingernails as she asked, "Killed anyone lately, Jett?"
"No, I haven't. I see my reputation proceeds me, Diedra. Yes, I was formerly an assassin for hire, but have spent the last few months as a spy for the Athenian army and am on my way back from Persia. You see, I ran into Joxer nearly a year ago, and he convinced me to turn from my evil ways."
"You expect us to believe that?"
Jett sighed, then countered with, "Maybe you should ask Cyrene. I heard many tales of Xena, Destroyer of Nations, of her cruelties and ruthlessness, but now I hear more stories of Xena the Warrior Princess and Savior of the Downtrodden. If Xena can change, so can I. Besides, I have a reason back in Athens to stay clean."
The waitress came back with his food, which Jett dug into quickly as silence enveloped the table. Diedra excused herself abruptly and Cyrene followed her outside. "Cyrene, he's still probably an assassin, just--"
Cyrene glared at her best friend. "Diedra, he could be telling the truth. After all, if my daughter turned back from her evil ways, he could too. Besides, he is Joxer's brother, and we should give him the benefit of the doubt. I didn't want to believe Xena had changed at first, either when she went on her rampages or when she came home and announced she had changed. But, thanks to Gabrielle, I gave her a chance the second time and have been well blessed. You know that Joxer will eventually be your son-in-law, so you will have to deal with Jett sooner or later. Why not give him a chance to prove himself one way or the other?"
Diedra looked around, then finally nodded slowly. "Maybe I was hasty in judging Jett, but it is in my training to be on guard. Sometimes, men like Jett remind me of that officer who raped me so many years ago..." Her voice trailed off as she thought about the man who impregnated her twenty-six years ago.
Cyrene said softly, "But something good came from it, you had Diana and you found Rebecka, your beloved."
"You are right, Cyrene. Tell Diana that I've gone back home and I'll see her later. Cyrene, what would I do without a friend like you?"
"Stew in your own juices, dear." Cyrene reached out and hugged Diedra. "Now go home and I'll see you tomorrow."
Several days later, Xena, Gabrielle and Joxer arrived in Amphipolis, just in time for supper. Xena went to stable Argo while Joxer and Gabrielle walked into Cyrene's tavern for supper. Joxer immediately saw Diana sitting at a table with another man, holding hands. "Go get Xena, Gabrielle," he hissed as he advanced on the table. As he got closer, he heard the man saying, "I know we haven't known each other for long, but you are the reason I live and breathe, brighter than the sun, more beautiful than the stars in heaven, more argh!" he squealed as Joxer started choking him from behind.
Diana launched out of her chair, trying to pry Joxer's hands from the other man's neck. "Damn it, Joxer, listen to me!" Seeing that it wasn't very effective, she threw both men to the ground and managed to pry Joxer away. He started spluttering curses until the other man turned around and faced him. "Oh, brother!"
"Brother is right, Joxer," Jett said as he rubbed his sore neck. "What's the matter with you?"
Joxer tried to toss Diana off to get to his brother. "You're talking to Diana like that and expect me to be calm?"
"Jett, please explain yourself," Xena said, sword ready. "I am a friend of Joxer's and Diana's."
Jett threw his hands up in exasperation. "Diana was nice enough to let me practice on her. I fell in love with a woman in Athens and was trying to figure out how to propose to her."
Gabrielle leaned on her staff, laughing. "You two think alike, don't you?"
Jett looked puzzled, but continued. "I met a wonderful woman named Sarah several months ago in Athens. Even though I haven't spent much time with her, I know she's the one for me, and since I was cooling my heels waiting for you, brother dear, Diana was suggesting that I try deciding how to propose to Sarah."
"Oh, Jett, could I see you outside?" Joxer asked.
"Sure. Excuse us, ladies." Jett followed Joxer outside, half expecting Joxer to hit him again. Instead, Joxer asked, "Have you come up with anything good yet?"
"No, I keep freezing up," Jett admitted, "I'm not a poet at all. I've been with a lot of women, but I've never been in love with a woman. Wait, are you trying to figure out how to propose to Diana?"
"Yep, I sure am. How did you guess?"
"Just from your general reaction and the way that Diana has talked about you the past few days. Brother, you'd better figure out how to propose to her in a hurry, Diana is a wonderful woman. Watch out for her mother, though. Diedra has heard of my reputation and I've been through the wringer, answering her questions."
"So, what are you doing these days?"
"Scouting for the Athenian army. I told you I'd do something good!" Jett clapped his hand on his brother's shoulder. "Joxer, I've missed you. I'm sorry that I was such an ass to you when we were growing up. Hey, let's go back in, it's getting a bit chilly out here."
Joxer asked Jett if he wanted to share his room for the night, saying that it was large enough for another bed and Cyrene could provide one. Jett declined, saying that he appreciated the gesture, but that he had enough money to pay for his room. "So, brother, how did you meet this lovely Diana?"
"Xena and Gabrielle decided to bring me back to Amphipolis to teach me how to fight like a real warrior last year. Diana came home from the Amazon nation on leave and we met, right here in the inn. Diana is a childhood friend of Xena's, and Diedra and Xena's mother Cyrene are best friends. Anyway, when Diana had to go back to her army unit, Xena and Gabrielle decided that I should go along, so the four of us went to the Amazon nation village. To make a really long story short, Diana was kidnapped later, and Xena and the Amazons helped me rescue her. I confess that I fell completely in love with her, hoping against hope that she might return my affection. She did, and decided that she was not cut out to be a warrior full time. Actually, I decided that I would leave the warrior trade to Xena and stay here to build a business so I would be in a position to marry Diana." Joxer stopped for breath. "So, Jett, how about you?"
Jett smiled wistfully. "Nothing that romantic, Joxer. I went to work for the Athenian army as a scout and spy. A few months ago, I decided to stay at an inn rather than the barracks for a few nights and met Sarah. Something about her innocence appealed to me. I kept coming down for supper when Sarah was waiting tables, and finally got the courage to ask her to see a play with me. I tell you, brother, I've never been so enchanted by a woman before. I usually just take women, not caring what happens, but Sarah is different. I really want to marry her, not just, well, you know, dally with her."
"Sounds good to me, Jett. I'm proud of you, the way you've changed."
Jett reached over and gripped his brother's shoulder, answering softly, "I'm proud of you, Joxer, you've finally found your place in the world." He suddenly grinned mischievously. "And found a spine to boot!"
The next morning, Joxer woke up very happy. His business was starting to thrive, he was in love with a wonderful woman, his brother was no longer a terrifying assassin, what could possibly go wrong? He hummed under his breath as he got up and dressed for breakfast. Maybe he should pop the question today, it looked like it was going to be beautiful and sunny today. He was sure that Cyrene would fix a picnic basket for them and that Gabrielle would tell him what to say. He finished dressing and went down to the dining room, where Xena and Gabrielle were already eating.
"Morning Joxer," Xena said.
"Good morning, ladies!" Joxer replied brightly. Gabrielle just waved sleepily, then turned her attention back to her breakfast. Joxer sat down at the table, waving at the waitress. He gave his order, then turned back to the pair at the table. "Is this a wonderful day or what?"
"Gabrielle, keep eating. Yes, Joxer, it should be a lovely day. Are you thinking of taking Diana for a walk?" Xena asked innocently.
Gabrielle perked up her ears and laid down her bread. "Joxer, are you going to ask Diana to marry you today?"
"Well, I was thinking about it--"
Gabrielle interrupted, "That's wonderful, Joxer! Oh, a picnic by the river, a lazy day of fishing, then waiting for Apollo to race his chariot across the sky, turning the world to gold, then saying, 'My dear, you are as golden as the light around us, so precious to me,' or something like that. You take her hands in yours--"
"Gabrielle, are you going to sit next to him to feed Joxer his lines?" asked Xena slyly.
"No, I was just giving him ideas."
Joxer's food arrived, but his appetite was leaving. He was suddenly very nervous, not sure just what he would say. Suppose Diana didn't want to go on a picnic today? Suppose Diedra had her tied up doing inventory or something? He picked at his food, eating a few bites, then finally laid his fork down. "I can't eat this, would you like it, Gabrielle?"
"Sure!" She grabbed his plate and dug in, missing the look of amusement on Xena's face.
After Joxer abruptly left to find Cyrene, Xena picked up her last piece of bread and chewed it thoughtfully, thinking about the tumultuous situation that led to her own marriage. Funny, she and Gabrielle never had the formal "will you please marry me" question and answer, they just knew that they wanted to get married. They discussed getting married, but it seemed like a given. She couldn't imagine life without Gabrielle, but hoped that Joxer and Diana could have a slightly less exciting first year of marriage.
Finally, the picnic was in progress. Joxer finally started relaxing as he and Diana ate, drank and chatted about life in Amphipolis. Diana was laughing about confusing Jett and Joxer and how funny Jett's reaction was when he realized that Joxer had a serious girlfriend. "Maybe you should try wearing black leather sometime, dear. It looked very good on Jett."
"Well, I think I prefer to look like a serious business man, not a thug. However, maybe a black leather vest would work, eh Diana?" Joxer leaned forward and kissed Diana gently, the nuzzled her neck, inhaling the scent of the herbs she had washed her lovely brown hair with that morning. He then sat back and took her hands in his, kissing first one, then the other. Joxer took a deep breath and said, "Diana, I've been thinking for some time about my future--"
Diana felt someone in back of them and yanked her hands away from Joxer's and grabbed her sword, turning to face three very ugly men. Joxer slowly stood up, cursing under his breath at the interruption. "Who are you and what do you want?" Diana growled.
The smallest man stepped forward, grinning savagely. "Never mind who we are, little girl, we want Jett the Asassin there. We can collect quite a reward for his dead body."
Diana stared at them. "This is Joxer, not Jett, you idiots. Now go away and leave us alone."
The man sneered at Diana, then turned to Joxer. "Are you going to let your woman speak for you, Jett? You must have gone as soft in the head as I'd heard."
Joxer stepped forward quietly, saying, "I am not Jett, I am Joxer, and this is Diana, Amazon warrior. Think twice before making her angry."
"Sure, you are. I've heard of Joxer the not so Mighty. A beautiful woman like her would never--" He never finished his sentence, for Diana had her sword tip placed carefully against his throat, so that the least flinch would guarrantee blood shed.
Joxer sensed motion beside him and turned to meet another three ugly men. He suddenly fell down, rolled to the edge of the blanket, grabbed a long stick, and stood back up, ready to meet them head on. How exactly the fight started he was not sure, he only knew that he and Diana were suddenly fighting for their lives, sword and stick flashing, barely holding their own against the six men. Just when it seemed that the others were winning, Joxer heard a mighty "Ai-yi-yi-yi-yi-yi!" ringing through the air as Xena tumbled from the sky, kicking butt and fighting furiously. He nearly stopped fighting in awe of her handiwork, but remembered just in time to keep a creep from stabbing Diana in the back. Moments later, Gabrielle and Jett burst from the bushes, joining the fight.
When the battered, bruised and bleeding men were finally subdued and tied up, Jett asked, "what happened here, Joxer?"
Diana answered, "They mistook Joxer for you. Good thing you all showed up when you did. By the way, why did you show up?"
The three looked at each other, then all started speaking at once. Joxer finally yelled, "Shut up! One at a time, please. Brother dear, why don't you start?"
"Um, Cyrene sent us to pick berries."
"Yeah, berries. You know, the big ones."
Diana snorted. "Right, Gabrielle. No berries grow in this direction."
Xena looked sheepish. "I got mixed up and led them the wrong direction."
"Sure, Xena, sure. Why don't we just go back to town and turn these scum over to the jailers?"
After turning the thugs over to the jailer, the five trooped back over to the tavern for a drink. Joxer kept trying to get Diana alone, but she kept remembering things to tell Xena or Gabrielle, or things to ask Jett about Joxer as a little boy. He was fuming, not even noticing that Cyrene and Diedra had joined the table with pieces of parchment in their hands. Finally, he had enough. "Diana, please give me your attention." he said quietly. She didn't hear. He noticed that she was now talking to her mother and looking over the parchment. Enough was enough, he decided as he climbed up on the table. The room hushed suddenly as Joxer walked down the table to stand in front of Diana.
"Diana, I've been trying to be romantic about this. I nearly got in trouble practicing with Gabrielle, I nearly got killed this afternoon, and I won't wait any longer. Will you marry me?"
Diana grinned broadly as she climbed up on the table to stand next to Joxer. "Yes, I'll marry you, Joxer."
"Because if you don't--hey, you will?" Joxer stared in amazement at the Amazon woman, then grabbed her and kissed her soundly, stopping only when the hoots and hollers of the rest of the room became too loud. He then noticed the parchment that her mother and Cyrene were looking at. "What's that?" he asked.
Diedra turned it around so Joxer could read, "You are cordially invited to the wedding of Diana and Joxer..."
"Oh gods." Joxer groaned as he fainted away.
Several weeks later, Jett was sitting in the inn in Athens, waiting for Sarah to finish her shift for the night. He drank his ale slowly, not wanting to mess up his mind. Finally, Sarah took off her apron and joined Jett at the table. "Hi, Jett, how is the army life?"
"Oh, fine. Hey, listen, my brother is getting married next week. Um, would you like to join me at the wedding? I'll get Xena and Gabrielle to escort you to Amphipolis, if you'd like."
Sarah looked at him carefully. "A wedding? for real?"
"Sure, honey, look at the invitation." Jett pulled the invitation out of his pocket and showed it to her. "I'm going to be his best man and Xena will be Diana's matron of honor. You could sit with Gabrielle. What do you say, please?"
She leaned over and kissed his cheek lightly, then ruffled his black hair. "I'd be delighted, Jett."
He smiled, relieved. "Maybe we could get ideas for our own wedding."
"Are you proposing to me?"
She looked at him for a long time, then finally smiled. "I accept."
Ares and his sister, Aphrodite, looked down at the wedding. "Bah, another possible warrior taken out of circulation," he grumbled.
Aphrodite looked at him curiously. "I'd never consider Joxer much of a warrior, Ares, even though Xena taught him fighting skills."
"No, I meant Diana."
Aphrodite looked at the crowd, listening to the vows before answering. Finally, she turned and said, "There's still Jett."
"Nope." Ares pulled out his sword, testing its sharpness. "I'd say that you've been working on him, too."
She smiled innocently. "Who, me? Never, brother dear, never!"