Disclaimer: The characters and settings of "Xena: Warrior Princess" are property of MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures, and are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended. This particular story, however, is property of the author and should not be reproduced or retransmitted in any form without her permission.
Warning: This may contain language and/or situations unsuitable for impressionable young minds, so proceed with caution.
"Xena, slow down," Gabrielle panted, hurrying after her friend. The tall warrior moderated her long stride.
"Sorry Gabrielle. Just anxious to get this over with."
"We didn't have to come, you know."
Xena sighed. "I hate exposition. Well, here goes. The letter said Joxer's to be executed in two days. We have to make sure they're hanging him for something he actually did. Anyway, he did help us out with the Bacchae that time. We owe him one."
"And you've saved his sorry butt at least a dozen times since then," Gabrielle pointed out. "You don't owe him any more. Face it, you're rushing to save him because you actually like the goofball. You can't stand by and watch him get killed."
Xena glared. Gabrielle laughed. They continued walking.
Xena strode into the town square as if she owned the place. "Come on, Gabrielle. If we hurry, we can find this King Rojex, convince him not to kill Joxer, and be back on the road by nightfall. But we only have forty-two minutes plus commercials, so let's move."
"Are we going to take Joxer with us when we go?"
Xena rolled her eyes. "Will we have a choice? He's on contract, you know."
"Well, you could threaten to kill him if he follows us."
"I've tried that, remember?"
"Oh yeah." Gabrielle pondered. "You could tell him how noisy we get sometimes at night." She gave Xena a sly grin. The warrior blanched.
"Enough, Gabrielle. The thought of Joxer watching us will make me ill."
"Hey, there he is." Further discussion was set aside as Gabrielle nudged Xena, pointing out the figure of Joxer walking toward them. He was wearing a long dark robe and flanked by two large guards in uniform. At the sight of them, Xena's hand moved to her sword.
Joxer's eyes narrowed. "What do you think you're doing?" he demanded.
The impudence was too much. Xena's warrior-rage boiled over. "You have a lot of nerve, little man," she growled. His face turned purple.
"More treason!" he shouted. "Throw them in the dungeon with the other one!"
Before they knew it, Xena and Gabrielle found themselves seized by more burly guards and hustled off to the castle basement. The men unlocked a cell, threw them in, and slammed the door.
"Xena, why didn't you fight?" Gabrielle demanded. "You could have taken those guards in an instant."
"It wasn't in the script," Xena replied. "Oops, I mean to say, I thought it would be better to go along with them. I was hoping for a clue as to what's going on here. Besides, we can just as easily break out of this stupid dungeon."
"I've still got a few tricks up my s-I mean, I have a few ideas."
"Great, glad to hear it. Can we go now?"
Xena and Gabrielle spun around to see who had spoken. Slumped despondently in a corner of the cell was....
"Joxer?" Gabrielle asked in confusion. Xena frowned thoughtfully.
"It was good of you to come," Joxer said mournfully. "It'll be nice to see some friendly faces when I die. Of course, Joxer the Magnificent will die with dignity."
"Of course, um...yeah," Gabrielle agreed halfheartedly.
"Let me guess," Xena interrupted. "You and King Rojex are exact lookalikes."
"Exactly," Joxer agreed. "For some reason they think I'm trying to take over his throne. Little do they know, Joxer the Mighty has no need for thrones and scepters and...and...dancing girls and fine wine. Joxer the Mighty's power comes from within!"
"Yeah, yeah," Xena said, rolling her eyes. "Gabrielle, snap out of it."
"You mean, like you and Meg?"
"Meg...." Joxer sighed dreamily.
"Can it Gabrielle. We're finished with the exposition part. It's time for the first fight scene of the story if I'm not mistaken."
Suddenly the door burst open and a bunch of guards rushed in. Xena automatically dispatched about a dozen of them with her pinky while Gabrielle finished off another three with her staff. Joxer tottered to his feet and stood there making little "whoosh" and "wham" and "oof" sounds with his mouth.
Another guard rushed in, this time stopping prudently just inside the door rather than charging at Xena while shouting an incoherent yell. "The King wishes to see you," he explained. Xena quickly brushed off her leathers and strode out the door. Gabrielle, Joxer and the guard hurried after.
Xena stood just outside the door of the dungeon, apparently lost in thought. After a moment, Gabrielle ventured, "Xena? Are you working on the Plan?"
"Heck no. I'm trying to remember where they put the throne room in this week's set."
"Right this way," said the guard, recognizing his cue. They followed him down some halls, through some courtyards and up some stairs. Finally they reached a door, but the guard was only contracted for two lines, so he merely pointed. Then he nodded when they thanked him, and left.
Xena knocked on the door. "Come in!" said a voice. They did.
King Rojex was seated on his throne, but he got up to meet them. "I hear you're Xena," he said.
"That's what my father said the day I was born," Xena said cryptically. Gabrielle frowned. The king looked confused for a moment, then shrugged.
"I must apologize for sending you directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dinars. I hope we can start over." He held out his hand. "I am Rojex, king of this general area."
"Nice to meet you. I'm Xena." Xena shook his hand. "This is Gabrielle." Gabrielle shook the king's hand.
"It's nice to meet some civilized warriors for once," the king said amiably. Xena looked around the well-appointed room with some trepidation.
"Where's your supposedly loyal and completely above suspicion yet actually megalomaniacal senior advisor bent on killing you and taking your place as rightful ruler?" she asked.
"Haven't got one," the king replied. "He ran off with the chambermaid years ago."
"Let me guess...ten years."
"Well...no...more like nine," the king said thoughtfully, scratching his chin. "Maybe eight and a half...let's see, it was the Year of the Fruitbat...."
"Well, do you have a handsome and tender-hearted but unwise in the ways of the world and somewhat quixotic son?" Gabrielle asked hopefully. Xena gave her a Look. Gabrielle shrugged and grinned sheepishly.
"Afraid not. All I have is a pet bunny."
"Look, if you don't have a psychotic senior advisor and you don't have a power-hungry heir, who do you suppose is backing Joxer in his alleged efforts to take over your throne?" Xena asked. "Because I can tell you he's not smart enough to dream that kind of thing up on his own."
"Yeah," said Joxer heatedly. "I mean...hey! I resent that! Joxer the Mi-" Abruptly, he was silenced as Gabrielle's hand covered his mouth.
"Well, gee, I'm not sure," the king said uncertainly. "Xena, aren't there any crazed and brutal warlords who used to ride with your army and now hold secret grudges against you loitering in the area?"
Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other. "Hmm...nope."
"Hmm. Well, how about a god?"
Xena and Gabrielle looked at each other again. "Ares?" Gabrielle asked.
"Not really his style," Xena mused. "Hey, wait a minute..." She looked suspiciously at Joxer. He began backing away slowly.
"Um, anyway, nice of you two to come," he said nervously. "I'll just be getting back on the road. I hear Hercules could use another sidek-I mean partner."
"Oh no you don't," Xena said, grabbing him by the front of his shirt. "Tell us the truth. It's not all a plot, right?"
"Um, Xena....." Gabrielle tugged on the warrior's arm. "You mean it IS all a plot."
"No, I mean it's not a plot. The writer couldn't think of a good story so she just dreamed up a dumb gimmick and hoped it would be amusing enough to make up for the lack of actual plot."
"What, again?" Xena and Gabrielle exchanged mutually exasperated looks.
"OK, it's true," Joxer confessed. "But hey, you can't blame me for this. Mom always loved my brother best. I'm just tagging along."
"You can say that again." Xena let him go. "Sorry to get you mixed up in this, Your Majesty."
"Hey, no problem," said the king, shrugging. "You know what they say, there are no small parts." They all laughed.
"Yeah...right," Xena said. "And I'm Sandra Dee. Come on Gabrielle, let's find a furking clearing in the furking forest and get naked. It's been a whole forty-five minutes since we last kissed."
"Um, don't we have to wait for the closing credits to roll?"
Xena rolled her eyes. "Oh yeah. Well, get on with it then!"
No silly dramatic conventions were harmed in the creation of this fanfic.