Please read the Disclaimer in Part One!
Warning: This story is rated NC-17. Do not read it if you are under 17 years of age, or if the idea of two women (or two men) in love turns you off. This story contains explicit sexual content, as well as probably some four-letter words.
Inaccuracy Alerts: 1) The incident Iolaus refers to was made up for this fanfic and does not refer to any particular episode of H:TLJ. 2) If Iolaus (and/or Herc) seems somewhat out of character here, well ... you ain't seen nothin' yet! ;)
Xenite Disclaimer for Part Three: No native New Greeceland extras were permanently harmed in the creation of this fanfic.
Asked if I am mouse or man The mirror squeaked, away I ran --Sting
"So here's the temple of Aphrodite," Gabrielle said, pointing at a spot on her map. "And here's the road we were traveling on."
"Here's where we are now," Iolaus explained, pointing to another spot. "It looks like two or three days' travel, walking. This road should go right to the temple."
"Let's go." Clumsily, Gabrielle got to her ... well, Hercules's ... feet and they began to walk.
"So," said Iolaus. "I suppose this has something to do with Aphrodite and her newfound penchant for turning you into men." Unlike their heroic friends, the two sidekicks made a point of keeping each other updated on their adventures.
"Well, sort of." Gabrielle avoided his eyes. Iolaus watched in fascination.
"Wow. I haven't seen you blush since the time you... I mean the time Hercules had to rescue this princess from one of Ares' minions and ... Well, never mind." He grinned to himself at the memory. "You were saying?"
"Me and my great ideas."
"Gabrielle and her great ideas," Hercules sighed, stomping down the road. Xena gave him a sideways glare.
"Hey, watch your mouth. You don't hear me insulting your sidekick."
"Well, that's probably because you and Iolaus have a history." Hercules smirked suggestively.
Xena narrowed her eyes. "Touch Gabrielle, and I'll kill you."
Hercules laughed sarcastically. "I can hardly help it, can I?" The two warriors glared at each other. Xena broke first, bursting into laughter.
"I hate to tell you this, Hercules," she said, shaking her head, "but I'm finding it really hard to take you seriously in that body."
"You're finding it difficult?" Herc looked down at Gabrielle's body. "Nothing against Gabrielle, really, but I'm just not used to feeling the breeze on my thighs."
"That's not all Gabrielle likes on her thighs," Xena commented before she could stop herself. Hercules's eyebrows shot up. Xena cleared her throat and gave a glare that dared him to comment.
The two walked on in silence.
"No, really, I don't think it's dumb at all," Iolaus assured Gabrielle for the third time. "Actually, it sounds kind of ... I don't know ... kinky. But in a good way."
"It's sweet of you to say so," Gabrielle told him. "I just can't help feeling that it's the kind of thing only I would come up with. I mean, turning me into a man. What on earth was I thinking?" She shook Herc's head and sighed in exasperation.
"Well, I've always wondered what it might be like as a woman," Iolaus confessed. Gabrielle turned to stare at him.
Now it was his turn to avert his eyes and blush. "Yeah, there was this one time when-"
"There he is!" At the shout, Iolaus stopped in midsentence. He and Gabrielle turned to see an unruly mob of highwaymen emerging from the bushes at the side of the road.
"So, the mighty Hercules, here on my very own road," the ugliest one sneered. "And we thought it was going to be a slow day!"
"Uh-oh," Iolaus muttered.
"Um, no, guys, you don't understand," Gabrielle said quickly, but then paused. What was she going to tell them? "Um, I mean, can't we talk about this?"
"What's to talk about?" the chief ruffian asked. "I'm going to be known as the guy who killed Hercules. And then I'll really rule the road! Get him, boys!"
"AARRRRRRR!" With a loud incoherent yell, the bandits attacked. Iolaus stopped the first man with a kick to the forehead. The man dropped, his staff falling from his hands. Iolaus scooped up the staff, used it to swipe the second man's feet out from under him, and then tossed it to Gabrielle before jumping back into the fray.
"Just do what you can!" he yelled. Gabrielle looked dubiously from the staff to the fast-approaching attackers.
"Well ... okay," she said hesitantly. She braced Hercules's body firmly and took a strong grip on the staff. As the first man approached, she thrust the staff at his chest in one of her most common moves. To her great surprise, the man flew backward at extreme velocity, crashing into two of his comrades and taking them down as well.
"Wow!" Gabrielle breathed, staring in awe. A surge of adrenaline flooded Herc's body and she began to fight again, delighting in the increased sense of power. Each of her standard moves, generally effective in its own right, became like a superhuman tool in Hercules's demigodly muscles. Gabrielle was enjoying herself so much she kept thrusting and parrying after the last man had fallen.
"Gabrielle! It's over, calm down," Iolaus said, approaching her cautiously. Gabrielle shook herself ... uh, Hercules's self ... quickly, trying to dispel the exhilarating feeling of the fight.
"Wow," she said again. "That was ... wow."
"Yeah, I'll bet," Iolaus said. "But look, we got lucky. We don't want to still be around when they wake up. Come on, let's get going. And maybe we should stick to the forest for a while."
"You're right," Gabrielle admitted. Reluctantly, she dropped the staff and followed Iolaus into the trees lining the road.
"You know, this would go a lot faster if we rode," Hercules observed. It had been several hours since either of them spoke, so Xena jumped in surprise at his voice and had to calm her shocked heartbeat down before she could reply.
"I don't think that would be a very good idea," she said carefully.
"Why not? Your horse is strong enough, isn't she? Surely she's carried the two of us ... I mean of you ... before?"
"That's exactly the problem," Xena replied. A long silence ensued. Hercules furrowed Gabrielle's brow.
"Ohhh...." he said at last, comprehension arriving slowly. "I, um ... I see."
Hercules put an experimental hand on Gabrielle's breast, then quickly pulled it away. "Too weird," he muttered, feeling suddenly a little queasy. Xena glanced over at him.
"Uh ... oh no," Joxer whimpered nervously as Aphrodite materialized in his tiny cell. He backed into a corner. "Uh, go away, evil temptress ... find some other lowly mortal to work your magic on."
"Dude, I totally apologized for that, didn't I?" the goddess soothed. "Like, chill out, okay? I'm like way bummin' to see you like this. Who put you in here?"
Joxer relaxed slightly. "Yeah, uh, Ares locked me up because I'm too dangerous to be running around. Um, I mean, he was scared of what I might do to him. I mean-"
"As if," Aphrodite scoffed. "Ares has something up his sleeve, I just know it. As usual." She glanced around. "And this prison motif is like, so Dark Ages! Come on, let's get out of here."
"I-I-I'm not going anywhere with you until you prom-Urg!" Joxer choked and sputtered as Aphrodite seized him by the front of his tunic and made a quick goddessly gesture.
"Oof!" said Joxer as he hit the floor, Aphrodite having abruptly released him. The goddess narrowed her eyes at the stone walls and the firmly closed iron door, and put her delicate hands on her bountiful hips.
"Like, this is way uncool," she growled.
"Let's stay here," Iolaus said when they had reached what looked like a safe clearing. Gabrielle looked at him in surprise.
"Stay? You mean, just for the night, right?"
"No, I think we should make camp here, where it's sheltered."
"But ... the more ground we cover, the sooner we'll straighten this whole thing out, right?"
"Yeah, but...." With a sweeping gesture, Iolaus indicated the bandits from behind and all the trouble that lay ahead. "You still look like Hercules, and there's no telling how much trouble that could get us in if we're seen in public again. I think it's safer just to hide out."
"Well ... I guess you're right," Gabrielle agreed reluctantly.
"I'm sure Xena and Hercules are headed this way. We'll keep a watch out for them and intercept them when they get here," Iolaus said.
"Okay." With a sigh, Gabrielle began collecting firewood. "So ... what have you been up to lately?"
"Xena, we've got to stop for the night," Hercules said. "You can barely see the road you're walking on."
"Yeah, you're right," Xena said with displeasure. "Well, we can camp here by the side of the road. I'll take first watch."
"You'll - But that means I have to build the fire."
"Yeah, so?" Xena gave him a bland look.
"You know, you can't just boss me around all the time. I'm not Gabrielle."
"Wh- I knew that," Xena said uncomfortably, wincing. "Fine, I'll build a fire. You keep watch."
"Well...." Hercules gave in. "No, you better keep watch. I'm still not sure I trust these eyes and ears." He paused uncertainly. Xena gave him a look of apprehension.
"Now what?" she demanded.
"Um, what does Gabrielle wear to sleep in? And you do still have two bedrolls, don't you?"
"Don't get your hopes up," Xena snarled. They both whirled around and stalked off in opposite directions.
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