Joxer and the Men

BY : AmberDDawn
Category: S through Z > Xena
Dragon prints: 485
Disclaimer: I don't own "Xena: Warrior princess", or "Hercules: The Legendary Journey" They were produced by Renissance Pictures I am not making money for this fiction.

AN: I was feeling a bit nostalgic and started searching up Xena fan fiction and a polarizing character, Joxer who I had initally not liked in the series,  but grew to accept for his goofy naivety, and even like him.   I found a lot of slash written with him in mind and I have to admit I enjoy it.

The Ares/Joxer pairing is most prevelant but I like any male character/joxer pairings.  It got me thinking of a ridiculous idea for a story and its been so long since I sat and watched "Xena Warrior Princess" or "The Adventures of Herculese"  I probably need to brush up on the show and on Greek mythology in general  in order to write  a good story.  I know the shows were quirky in the way the charcters spoke.  Specifically the gods seemng to be more aware of the future and making  pop culture  refrences now and again.  but I think that didn't happen often.
Anyway I had an idea for a Joxer Slash fic  I want to flesh out.  I don't even know if  there are that many people still writting or reading the fan fictions. A lot of  the better written stuff was found on older sites some of which didn't look like they have been updated a while.

Keeping that in mind  I'm really writting this down for my own entertainment more than for an audience.  I was hoping it might find an audience anyway.  Also I hope that I haven't gotten people written terribly out of character.


 

Joxer finds himself forced to enter an encampment of Gargareans (they were like the brother tribe of the amazon and depending on which legend  you read  they were either cooperatively breeding with the Amazon and each tribe would get to keep their respective gendered children.  Or the amazons would kidnap and rape the men of the Gregrean tribe.) the group in this story have broken from their tribe and rejected all Women because of the Amazon's abuse of their people.

 

There is some kind of actual godly barrior proecting this camp from allowing any women to enter and the small branch of the Gargarean tribe hold a stolen object.  One  their craftmen made and sold  before finding out that said opbject was to be dedicated to Athena as a gift.  The man stole the object back.

In offence for having one of her tributes stolen Athena refuses to bless the village that housed her dishonored temple.  The village is now being enchroached by bandits and the people begging for mercy of the gods reach Xena and company's attention.


Joxer and the Men

Chapter 1: Joxer and the Gargareans



Xena and Gabrielle trekked the mountain side slowly neither aknowledging the clanking of armor behind them.  Joxer would never be able to sneak up on anyone in that  get-up.  The women however made no effort to lose the struggling man behind them.  As annoying and inept their friend was, he was also a good man and he had the heart of a hero if not he coordination to back it up.  Both women felt he'd do better ditching the armor and had said as much to the man on more than one occasion, but he was far too  attached to the garb to part with it, useless as it may be.

 

Aside from the armor, Joxer was unusually quiet this particular day.  He was still sulking about the beating, both verbal and physical, he received from the village guards.  So, maybe he  had tripped and knocked over a ladder that caused a bucket or fall off a window-sil.  The bucket having a collection of rotting food and rubbish in it and landing on  the village Prefect's horse causing it to buck him off and covering both he and the horse in putrid stinking filth. If it hand't been for Xena's presence Gabrielle  was certain that they would have been run out of town, so, a mild beating and a few harsh words were far and above the worse case scenario.  As much as the blonde  woman was lothe to admit it the men were a little scathing in their treatment of Joxer.  He'd not meant any harm, but he sure caused it anyway.

 

Xena looked to her pensive companion and back at their follower.  Half the time she wished that he would give up on the delusions of "Joxer the Mighty"  especically  when he sang so enthusactially, but other times she just didn't have it in her to mind the clumsy over ambitious antics.  Joxer was good for a laugh, normally.
 

Now was not normal and she knew behind the facade he usually wore he wasn't confident or fearless.  She looked back to her companion who halfheartedly shrugged.   Saying anything right now would not help their friend.
 


 

"I said I was sorry!"  Joxer had wailed before having the wind knocked out of him with an "oof."

 

One guard had held the man while the other worked him over.  The armor clanked rhythemicly as he was punched and kicked.  The cheap metal dented and bent and the  helmet was thrown off into a horse trough nearby as both of the gurdes called him every name under the sun.

 

"Stupid clumsy, useless idiot!  Maybe this will teach you to watch where you're going!"  The guard had his fist balled and reared back of another hit when Xena stepped in.  She glared at the guard as he started to throw another punch.  She stopped him with her hand, catching the fist as if  it were nothing.  The brunette woman grinned evilly at the man and he backed off and slinked away like a  kicked dog back to his post beside the leader's office door.

 

"Let him go," She turned and warned the man holding her friend.  He released Joxer's arms allowing him to slide to the ground.  Joxer looked mortified yet thankful as  he was suppored by the ground.  The world was still spinning from that last hit to the jaw, just after they had thrown his helmet into the horse trough.

 

The  statuesque brunette looked down, her face a mixture of iritation and concern, "You gonna be alright Joxer?"  He panted and clutched at the grass but nodded.  He'd had worse beatings.

Meanwhile Gabriell tried to placate the village leader who was threatening to string up the "clumsy oaf" for the offence.  The Warrior Princess walked over to where her other companion was attempting to assage the pompus man's damaged ego.

 

"I'll see that fool hanged for assulting me!"  The beefy man screamed as a vein popped in his forehead.
Xena pointed out that she was requested to help with the village's little crisis, and if her friend was excuted for accidentally soiling the prefecture's fancy cloak  and dirtying his horse (not to mention getting him bucked) she'd not be inclined to help.

 

"This is not usually part of our repitorie...negoating with theives,"  She said in a bored tone that didn't betray her feelings as she glanced back to her injured  friend watching him pick himself up.  She wished she could do something to the men who had hurt him but part of her deep down thought he deserved at least some of the trouble he gets into.  No she doesn't mean he shold get beaten for being awkward, but yes he gets himself into situations that are avoidable more often than not.  Joxer needs to start thinking before diving into situations and looking where he's walking would be a major victory on that front.

 

Carefully Joxer rose and dusted himself off feeling a twinge in his side from a blow that had made its mark even through the layers of metal and leather.  He rubbed his  smooth chin.  That was going to bruise.  He wished he could grow a beard so he could hide it, but  that was really a stupid thought too if he could grow a beard by the  time it would cover his chin the mark would have faded.  This wasn't so bad, but nothing compared to being called Stupid, worthless, and "scum of the earth".  Even now  from people who oviously meant nothing to him it still stung more than any physical blow he's felt.

 

"I'm sorry I get in trouble and end up making you and Gabby look like fools for keeping me around,"  He mumbled this to himself.  Joxer had been feeling a melancholy spell coming on as of late, but had been fighting it.  He needed to be strong and keep the act up.  It was one thing to be a bumbling fool that was too loud, but good for a laugh.   It was an entire different story being a depressed weak excuse for a warrior who couldn't even do one thing right.  People tend to at least like comic relief even if its only to make them feel better by comparison and to laugh at.

 

He chanced a look at his friends.  Xena was turned away from him but Gabrielle happened to be looking at him.  The blend of shame, worry and iritation on her face had  him looking back at the ground.  He suspected she might have given him at least half the beating he'd just gotten over again.  If she didn't want to undermine Xena she  would be over him smacking his head with her staff that very moment, he was certain.

 

Joxer had just stood there while the women had saved his bacon once again.  Walking carefully over to the watering trough he fished his helmet out.  The water drained  from his helmet smelled of horses and stagnation.  He grimaced, thinking to himself, 'They really ought to change the water for the horse's sake.'

 

Placing the damp armor back in its rightful place he sniffed and searched out a safe spot to stand.  He leaned against the wall behind the trough.  There were no  windows or doors in his immediate vicinity  no horses were tied up at the moment.  The leader's had cantered off down the road and a guard that hadn't set uppon him  had run after it.

 

He was starting to wonder once again why anyone in their right mind would allow him within twenty arms lengths of themselves.  If only for self preservation and not the  annoyance factor.  He was cursed.  His father had been right about him.  The gods must hate him.  Joxer slapped himself a good few times and straightened.  His armor  clanked softly as he gave himself an internal pep talk. 'Remember who you are, "Joxer the Mighty!"  Righter of wrongs and upholder of justice!'  He had a good chuckle  at himself and fellt marginally better.  He didn't chance looking at his friends again until they came to him, 'If they come to you again.'  The errant doubt creeped  upon him.  That elusive thought always there that, 'one of these days they are going to tire of you and you'll be alone again.'  His shoulders slumped his regained  feeling of peace ruined.

 



The women found him there leaning spaced out and frowning.  Gabrielle had slapped him after calling his name several times.  She looked irate.  Xena had frowned at them but said nothing.  She turned and start walking back to where she had left her horse just out of the village proper. She said something about boarding her because  the mountain terrain might be too treacherous for a horse to manage safely.

 

Joxer didn't know weather to be thankful or worried.  Sure he'd not have to try and keep pace with Argo, but if  the way was too dangerous for a gracful horse what would it be like for an uncoordinated wanna-be warrier.

 

He always hated it when he had to keep up with a horse.  Gabby could at least ride behind her if Xena was in a  hurry.  Joxer knew him with all his armor would never be welcome on Argo.  Much less at all.  He was kind of scared of that magnificent horse.  It was almost as  intimidating as its owner.

 

He was so lost in his thoughts he almost lost the women as he trailed behind them away from the village and up the gentle slope of the mountain base.  He looked around the valley filled with lush new vegetation.  Spring was such a beautiful time.

 

"Hurry up Joxer!"  Gabrielle shouted behind her at the treeline nearly half way up the slope.

 

He shook his head and apolojized, "Sorry!"

 

"Never mind...just get up here we mant to make at least a little progress before dusk!"  Gabby hollered as the man stumbled up the hill quickly as he could in his jumble of metal and leather straps.

 

He was further greatful when the women set a slower pace and didn't try to ditch him.  It had seemed strange to him considering the urgency in the tone of the village's request.  It had seemed life or death according to the prefecture, their temple to Athena had been robbed.  Since then there had been a few raiding parties beset on  their village walls.  They were only a small village and though they were prosperous enough they could hardly afford a militia and their neighboring cities were lothe  to interfere.  Their justification being they had little to no protection themslves and that the village should be able to handle a few bandits on their own.

 

"So what's the game plan,"  Joxer asked as she scratched at a bug bite behind his ear.

 

Gabrielle stopped and leaned against a tree.  Joxer squatted on a nearby fallen log and looked at her.

 

"Well we don't know where the camp is, or even if  they have what we're looking for, but according to rumor the group claim to be an off shoot of the Gargareans and they are semi nomadic.  They never go too far south prefering to stay near the mountains.  They have been living in this area for at least 5 years ocassionally they come down to the valley and trade weapons and musical instruments for goods.  The offering taken from Athena's temple was a decorative dagger made by one of the Gargareans.  Aparently he was not pleased when the man who bought it dedicated it to Athena.  Made a big mess of the temple and stole the thing back," Gabrielle explained  seeming to really get into retelling the tale.

 

Xena cleared her throat comunicating she's rather  keep walking, if  they must talk.  Joxer stretched and yawned and Gabrielle sideled up to Xena on the trail.

 

"I guess theres this thing about Women," The bard shrugged.

 

"What about women?"  Joxer asked eagerly.

 

"These Gargareans...they won't have anything to do with them.  They hate women... Even Goddesses," She shrugged.

 

"You're going to have to be the one to talk to them Joxer,"  Xena spoke up.

 

"Me?"  Joxer blushed and smiled.  It was a nervous smile but genuine none the less.  Xena was going to trust him to do something so important?  Sure it was only because they weren't able to, but hey it was a start and if he did this right then...well maybe he'd leave that thought lie until after he had actually done something useful.

 

"I asked them to call on Herculese.  He and Iolaus could handle this better, but aparently  They are down south handling some Sea serpant troubles along the western coast at least 5 days ride of here, and that's without accounting on the time it would take to locate him,"  Xena sighed in mild iritation, "I suggested he spare a few men to go and make peace with the tribesmen but again the Prefect  claimed they had no extra men to spare with the nightly raids."

 

She remembered the blustering man's words well.

 

"I don't care if you trade, kill for it or steal it back.  We just need that dagger back in place at the temple so we can begin receiving Athena's blessings once more!"
 

"Maybe after things are cleared up with Athena's temple they can form a Militia and go find where the bandits are camping and chase them out?"  Joxer offered.

 

"Maybe...somethings got be done and the people of Colyrus need to learn to defend themselves and not rely so much on the whims of the gods."

 

Xena had been tempted to forget it, go get her horse, and leave the jerk Prefector to his fate, that was if it were just the selfish Prefector and not an entire village in danger.  She had seen the charred damage to the walls and gate upon entering. The beleigured guards and frantic work of craftsmen as they repaired the damage.  There were still arrows  sticking out of parts of the burned sections of the wall.  It looked as if the walls had held only barely.  If  the man was right and Athena was withholding blessings  of protection because of this one dagger it would be far easier to get it back then routing out all the bandits in the area. (something admittedly the village should  be doing anyway).  She would touch that point with the village head when she returned the stolen offering.

 


 

They had a days walk up the mountain and according to their information the encampnent was most probably found where it had been for the last year.  They prefered to stick below the tree line so at least they didn't literally have to climb a mountain to get to them.   Aparently the man who had crafted the dagger was unhappy that is was gifted to the Goddess Athena.  He had even denounced the female god right in her temple.  This must  truly be what had gained the ire of the normally tempered Goddess.

According to rumor this splinter off the Gargarean tribe denounced all women.  Hated them and  anything feminine.  How they reproduced was a mystery, but perhaps they added to their numbers through recruitment rather than procreation.  Still they claimed to be  direct descentants of Gargarean tribesmen.  This could also be a story told to impress outsiders.  Xenia neiher knew or cared all she did care about was getting that  dagger back.

 


 

The land turned out to not be much of an issue.  Their trail was a gentle upward slop.  Path bordered in soft young vegetation. The temprature was still a little chilly this early in spring.  The mountains tops were decorated in vivid white though the  valleys were already lush with the return of Persephone to her mother's embrace.

 

Dusk was aproaching.  The group decided to make camp for the night.  Joxer still seemed a bit down trodden but he was getting better.  He offered to catch them some fish from the icy stream they'd had to cross not far back.  Neither woman cared and said as much.  He pouted a bit but they seemed to settle down to make camp so he moved to the edge of the stream and began to  strip off his bulky armor. He checked to make sure neither woman would accidentally walk up on him.  He stripped his top off and probed at the large bruise on his side  it was both tender and almost feverish hot.  It ached him terribly  but he didn't mention this to either women.  Not wanting to seem weak he bore with it.

 

Dipping  his hand in the icy runoff and pressing it to the pained area felt so good  he almost forgot what he was doing.  He rolled his leather pants up to the knees and  used some leather cord to tie the legs so they wouldn't fall.  The last thing he needed was wet pants.

 

He waded out into chilled waters. The loud rush of the currents  kept him from hearing the rustling down stream and to his back as he observed some small fish darting about.  He smiled with an idea. He waded back and collected his  helmet.  He deftly scooped some of the numerous young fry in it and carried it back carefully resting it on his armor so it wouldn't tilt.  the little fishes swam in circles in his hat clueless to their fates.

 

Joxer reached up and snapped a few green branches and a few of the thicker older branches with a little more work.  He carefully took his knife from his boot and began stripping the branches saving the tender fibers then he got to work carving a hook from the wood.  When he was little  and he and his brothers were allowed  to wander.  They would play in the shallow river near their home.  One day Jett had taught him how to make a fishing pole, and catch fish with a line.

 

The man began rubbing the supple green bark from the young branches down his thigh.   It started to curl until it began to resemble a proper fishing line.  He his pants smelled of greenery by the time he was done.  Then taking a particuraly sturdy looking  branch he had cleaned he fashioned the hand made line and hook to it.  He dipped his hand into his helmet and managed to catch one of the minnows.  He never liked baiting his  hook with the little fish, they were so small and cute.  That part seemed cruel but when one was hungry one didn't dwell as much on cruelty.

 

The stream's babbling was a bit soothing if it was loud.  he couldn't hear the sound of someone aproaching until he was startled by a gruff, "What are you doing here?"
 

Joxer yelped and dropped his fishing pole but the stranger managed to catch it before it was swept awy with the currents, "Oh you startled me,"  He blushed hard and steeled himself, "Err...um...I was fishing...in this stream...don't tell me this is your spot?"

 

"Actually this whole area is my family's teritory,"  The Stranger grinned down at the fidgeting picture Joxer had created.  Blush vibrant, but even more so the dark  purple bruise on his face.  With his free hand the other man caught Joxer's chin with an unexpected gentleness.  Joxer's blush grew as he was being scrutinized.

 

"Sorry...I didn't realize we were encroaching," Joxer tried to pull away when he was handed back his fishing pole.  The man treaded fingers through the seated man's  hair.  If  Xena or Gabby were to walk up to them now they'd probably get a very wrong impression.

 

"You can fish here,"  The man chuckled as he tilted Joxer's head up.  He wasn't what Joxer would consider handsome, but he wasn't too sore on the eyes either.  He was rough.  Bulky muscles and a crooked nose.   Dark hair clipped shorter than his and a scruffy beard framed his jaw.  He had a reddish tinge to his skin,  Joxer noticed for the first time the man was barely clothed, only wearing a loincloth made of animal hide, and he was dripping wet.  His blush crept further down his neck.  He'd been fishing in this man's bathing area.

 

"What's your name?"  The stranger asked as he started to rub his thumb over Joxer's bruised jaw.

 

"J-Joxer!"  He blurted out in a fit of nerves he reached for the man's hand, but the man released the would-be warrior and smiled.

 

"I'm Gallus," He stepped back from the stunned man, "Joxer you shouldn't stay with someone who beats you so."

 

Before he could manage a response the man had turned and waded through the thick folaige and out of sight.

 

The strange encounter was shelved in the back of his mind when he felt a strong tug on his line.  Joxer managed to haul in the largest pike he had ever seen.  It was  probably enough to feed the three of them fairly well for the night.  He wondered if  he should try to catch more, but decided he had wasted enough time.

 

Thoughts  going to the appearance of that man Gallus as he got dressed.  He threw his helmet on without thinking of the tiny fish swimming in it.  Now he was soaked, there had been no point in carefully keeping his pants dry.  He looked like someone had thrown a bucket of water on his head.

 

Joxer carefully bent to try and save the minnows from  sufficating grabing the slippery little devils and tossing them back into the water to swim away. He strung up his prize pike glad this was one fish story he had  evidence for.

 

Gallus watched carefully hiden thanks to his god's blessing.  The forest was his friend, but he didn't mind having some human companionship.  He smiled as he watched  Joxer go.  Thoughts of how cute this interloper was.

 

I suppose I should warn father there are people heading to our camp.  He slung the large string of pike over his shoulder mindless of the fishy smell getting on his  bare skin.  He hoped his father didn't mind him sharing his catch with the hapless man.

 

"That was the biggest pike I'd ever caught hope he is properly rewarded by  his master.  He looks like he barely gets any food," Gallus frowned, not for the first time since seeing the smaller man did he worry that this Joxer was being abused  and neglected terribly and those clothes--that armor must have been a century old if it were a day and ugly to boot.

 

"He looked so adorable when he thought I caught him poaching fish," Gallus chuckled to nobody.  He hoped Joxer and his master were coming to his camp now.  Maybe whomever owned Joxer would be willing to trade for him.  "Maybe the young ox father gave me for my birthday?  I think father wouldn't mind if  I gave it up...not for someone like that,"  He scratched his chin still thinking out loud.

 



Joxer beamed as he neared camp bearing a generous main course for their dinner.  Or proably only course if nobody bothered to forage.  He was tempted to hang the fish in a tree and look for some roots or wild leeks to bring back  but he stopped himself.  "Knowing you we'd forget where we hung the fish,"  He chidded himself and continued on his path.  He could smell a smoky fire going.  It was probably hard to find any dry wood this time of year.  He didn't mind, a smokey fire was better than no fire.

 

"Look what I caught,"  He grinned like a fool as he presented the fish.  Xena wasn't there.  he assumed she was doing some scouting of her own.  Maybe she could find  some vegetation for them to eat.  In the meantime Gabby actually looked impressed.
'Wow," Gabrielle said amazed, "I can't believe you managed to catch something that big.  Are you sure there are no fishmongers hiding near by?"

 

He pouted, but she was smilling at him.  He took her unusually gentle ribbing in stride, "I got it for the bargin of one minnow,"  He added to her joke light-heartedly.

 

"Bring it here then Jox, You caught it so I'll clean it,"  He didn't argue, gutting fish wasn't his idea of fun, well it was nobody's  idea of fun he was sure, but Gabby would probably do a better job then him anyway.

 

Xena came back with more firewood and a few wild onions hanging over her arm.
"Hey that's a big fish,"  She smiled at the man.  It was nice to see him acomplish something he had set out to do with little to no disters in his wake.  Although his clothes looked damp and he was shivering.  "You fall in getting that?"

 

"It's a long story, but at least I didn't lose it or get lost coming back,"  He pointed out and the two women nodded good naturedly.  Everybody had a sense of unease things were going to well so far.  Nobody spoke this worry  for Joxer's sake.

 

The fish was a good meal.  Everybody had their fill and the bones and inards were all thrown in the fire to burn away.  The night wasn't so bad until it came time to sleep.  Joxer's clothes were still damp and clung to him letting the night air seep into his bones.  In his sleep he kept scooting closer and closer to the charred embers of the campfire.  Just before dawn everybody was woken by a pained yelp.  Joxer had buried his hand right in the center of the hot coals scalding himself.

 

Joxer hunched over cradling his charred flesh.  Xena grabbed his arm and poured some of their drinking water on his scalded flesh to try and mitigate the damage.  Joxer pulled his hand back from Xena's grip.

 

"Joxer, let me see!"  The warrior princess demanded.

 

He whimpered as he stretched his hand back out to her.  She frowned.  Even in the dim light of predawn she could see how bad it was.  His hand looked redder than a boiled lobster.

 

"Gabrielle do we have any salve left?"  Xena clutched Joxer's wrist so he couldn't retract his arm again.

 

The blond rubbed sleep from her eyes.  If she were more awake she'd have rolled her eyes at their hopeless companion, "I-I'll check."  She scooted over to her travel bag and dug through it.  She had a tiny ceramic jar filled with the cream Xena had taught her to make.  She hoped it would help.  She really did but, how many times was Joxer planning to hurt himself this trip there was only half a jar left.

 

Xena held out her hand expectantly.  Joxer was struggling agianst her hold.  His poor hand was screaming in pain, even if he had clamped his mouth shut after his inital cry.  He was shivering.  His instinct to curl in on himself was hard to fight.

 

Gabrielle held the jar out and Xena took a big gob of the translucent grease.  Gentle as she could she smeared the medicine over the raw red flesh. Joxer's whimpers were almost inaudible.  Gabby found a few dry rags in her bag and handed a smooth strip over.  Xena firmly wrapped the cloth over the injury.  Joxer hissed but didn't protest.

 

"I guess were getting an early start," Gabrielle yawned.

 

Joxer glanced at her giving a pained smile, "Sorry about this guys."

 

"Try not to get that bandage wet.  We don't need you getting an infection," Xena tied off the cloth and Joxer was finally allowed to have his arm back.

 

He hummed quietly.  His hand felt like it was still burning but he trusted that his friends had done all that they could.  He held his arm to his chest.  It was his dominant hand.  If  they got in a fight with these tribesmen he'd be even more of a liability than normal.

 



The camp was easy to find.  The group suspected they were expected as there was no effort hide any of the trail marks to the entrance of the camp.  Xena stopped Joxer with a firm hand on his shoulder.  Her face was stony, "Don't put yourself in danger and if  things get dicy I want you to run back to us.  If  we can't get the dagger today we can regroup.  You are only going in there to talk.  Remember that."

 

"Yes," Joxer agreed. He really wished he didn't have to go alone but if  the rumors were true he was the only one of them that could even go past the entrace.

 

Xena and Gabrielle walked behind him as he entered.  There were two bulky men guarding the make shift gate of sharpened logs embedded in the ground.

 

"We're here for an audience with your chief," Xena spoke but the guards only glared at her.  They nodded to Joxer.

 

"You come,  they stay here,"  He barked at Joxer.

 

One guard grabbed his injured arm and Joxer hissed in pain but he allowed himself  to be dragged along.

 

Already regretting their plan the brunette woman tried to reach for her friend and a painful spark travled from her finger tips up her arm as she crossed what she assumed to be the barrier of the camp.  She jerked back.

"Xena?"  Gabrielle spoke as the warrier looked at her fingers.

Xena steeled herself, "Come back safe Joxer!"  She shouted the command.  Gabrielle took Xena's hand in hers and squeezed it.


Joxer looked over his shoulder and nodded, "I will, promise."  He was jerked forward and nearly tripped on his own feet  but the guards had a tight grip on him.  he wasn't going anywhere they didn't want him too.

 



Gallus heard that the strangers had come to their camp.  Two women and one man.  He frowned and left the small ox pen made of tree branches woven wild grapvine.  He'd spent his morning brushing the young bovine and cleanign him.  He hadn't broched the idea of bartering the animal yet but nobody could protest him grooming the beast.  If they didn't want the animal he'd at least have bragging rights on the handsomest ox in camp.  The animal rubbed its muzzle against his hand.

 

"I know Dymnos,"  He petted the black ox, "You be a good boy and eat your breakfast."  He gently pushed the ox to a pile of sweet field grasses he had gathered and dried the previous week.  "If  your good  I'll take you out to the feilds later to graze, but for now  you need to stay clean."

 

The ox mooed at him then bent down and burried his nose into the grass pile.
Gallus brushed himself off and looked down at himself his hide pants and vest looked ok.  He knows Joxer had already seen almost all he had to offer but it didn't hurt to look nice.  He shrugged hoping he was impressive enough.  If one of the women was his master, he wondered what he should do to buy him from them.  The ox might not impress a woman he had no idea, but he had already decided whomever was responsible for the man was doing a terrible job of caring for him.  Whatever it took he had to get Joxer.

 

The thought of just keeping him there in the camp where they couldn't come get him was tempting.  However, the backlash might not be worth it.  Espically if Joxer was seen as deserting his mistress.  Joxer might get punished wrongfully.

 

As backwards their tribe was they typically honored the law of the land.  It was just easier, and who's to say the women would not hire a man to come take their property back. What could they do to stop them then.  If they killed whomever came they might get a militia out after the village.

 

They were hard working and had some skilled warriers, but the sheer numbers the outside world could throw at them would overwhelm them eventually.  They couldn't relocate in a fesable amount of time to escape retibrution either.

 

That was even assuming Joxer was a slave, but why would anyone in their right mind wear such rediclous kit.  He shook his head.  Why would the man be so thin and bruised unless he was a slave.  Being closed off from the world didn't mean they had to be ignorant to the ways of it.  Besides he, himself had been to the villages below the mountain to trade and buy supplies.

 

He'd seen slaves.  Dressed in rags.  While Joxer's werent rags  he was still almost sickly thin and bruised.  He was probably forced to fight for the amusement of others...

 

Then a thought occured to him.  His  younger brother had gone the Colyros.  He had made that wodden dagger for some man, then found out that the thing had been given as an offering to Athena.  That had made the boy so angry he said he was taking it back.  He had warned Theos not to go but aparently he had taken the decorative knife back and made a big spectale of himself  cursing the goddess and knocking over a table holding a bunch of food offerings.

 

The priests were so shocked that the boy had managed to escape the temple.  Once he was outside the village he easily made it home.  Father had been so furious.  "One does not taunt the gods, even a goddess."

 

That might be the reason for the women with Joxer coming here.   Gallus shook his head.  Father had punished him but the boy refused to hand the dagger back to its rightful owner.  Their father took the dagger and carries it at his side.  He will carry it until, he can decide what he should do with it.

 

The dagger was just decorative.  It was made of a solid carved peice of ash wood, polished until it shone and carved with an intricate pattern carved over the surface.  It was a fine peice of craftmenship on his little brother's part, something to be proud of.  To find out something he had poured his heart into dedicated to a goddess he personally hated must have felt horrible, but once he sold the artifact  it wasn't his.  Gallus felt torn.  He wasn't about to walk into Athena's temple for any reason, let alone to return an offering, but the dagger was not his brother's to take.

 

That had been a couple moons past and they were just now doing anything about it.  He wondered if it was only now just missed or if the group was there to trade.  It didn't matter what did was that the cute man was coming to see his father he had better hurry if he wanted to beat Joxer to his father's tent.

 


 

Joxer was thrust into the tent.  It was larger than any tent he been in.  A smoldering fire pit sat at the center and on either side guards stood.  He gulped quietly.  There in the center were two men one was broad shouldered and muscular with a face covered in a beard of curly iron grey hair and a mop on top to match.

 

The man sitting practically in his lap was slender and balding and rather subdued looking.  The larger man's hand was stroking the smaller man's thigh. If Joxer didn't know any better he would suspect the smaller man to be the consort of the Larger.  In fact he didn't know better.  The large man was wearing thick animal hide but his vest barely covered the broad scarred chest.  The smaller man was sitting where the chief's wife would be if he'd had one.

 

Joxer internally slapped himself, 'They don't allow women here.'

 

The smaller one was garbed in a soft looking blue linnen shirt and a pair of leather pants that fit rather snugly.  The chief saw Joxer scrutinizing his partner and grabbed the man pulling him close to his chest.  He glared at Joxer as if he had affronted him.  Joxer looked to the ground quietly.

 

"State your business stranger," Joxer felt himself pushed down roughly and he went to his knees.  He took his helmet off and let it fall next to him in show of respect.

 

"Sorry sir," He managed to get out with only a small tremble in his voice, "I'm here on behalf of the village of Colyros..."

 

"Colyros eh? Finally noticed that dagger was missing?" He interuped Joxer in a comntemplative tone.  Suddenly the tent was lit briefly as a flap in the back was opened and in stepped someone Joxer recognized immediatly.

 

He blushed thinking of  the man with a psysique to rival Hercules in only a dripping wet loincloth.  He cast his eyes back to the floor.  He heard whispering and looked up to see Gallus whispering into his father's ear.  The older man could not be mistaken as anyone other than Gallus's father, but strangly he also resembled the smaller man.  Perhaps his uncle or an older brother.  Joxer didn't think on it too long but got a weird vibe when the youngest of the three men brushed his lips on the top of the balding man's head and squeezed his shoulder.  The older man's bony hand grasped his and the affection between them seemed so deep and pure.

 

Gallus whispered to the smaller man and they both looked at Joxer.  Gallus blushed a bit but smiled fondly.  The unnamed man nodded and patted his hand as Gallus leaned back to stand behind his father."My son says the two of you met in the forest last night," The chief stated more than asked.

 

"Yes-sir,"  Joxer blurted out.

 

"Call me Pytheaus...and my consort is Idas.  Theres no need to be so formal,"  The man grinned and it made Joxer's stomach turn.  There was something going on here he didn't understand, and he wasn't sure he liked what he felt.

 

"Yes,sir...um Pytheaus sir," Joxer dipped his head in a bow, "A-about that dagger?"

 

"Take off your armor," the chief comanded.

 

"What?"  Joxer blushed and nearly pitched forward in the fire. "You...for the dagger?  You want my armor?"  He didn't want to give up his armor as noisy and ugly as it was, it was his and he didn't have dinar to spare to buy anything newer.

 

He sighed, resigning himself, and began undoing laces with his good hand.  Why would they even want it?  He hadn't seen anyone here wearing armor, but he had hardly had a chance to look around with the guards draging him across the camp so fast.

 

Gallus's eyes were glued to him.  Everybody was watching the display and he suddenly felt like some kind of dancing girl in a tavern.  The kind of tavern where the girls would strip for a price.  He supposed it was at least for a good cause.  It felt really weird when he noticed that the guards were watching him to.  He felt like a piece of meat.  The one to his left licked his lips as he watched.

 

Gallus followed the eyes of the distressed man noticing the hungry look that one of the guards was giving Joxer.  His eyes narrowed.  He would have sent them away, but they were there in case things went wrong.  If he were wrong about Joxer.

 

Joxer was wrestling one handed with the buckles his burnt hand still very painful.  He coudln't get his left shoulder pad off.  He kept shrugging at it but it wouldn't budge.  A hand reached out and grabbed his right wrist.  "What's this?" 

Gallus had vaulted across the floor when he had noticed Joxer struggling.  He had lost his composure when he noticed the bandages covering his right  hand.

 

"What happened?  Did those women harm you?  I knew it!"  The man's other hand went to his shoulder buckle and slipped the armor over his shoulder letting it clatter noisily to the ground.  He started unwrapping the bandage on his hand and Joxer had to bite his lip to keep from screaming as the blistering flesh was exposed.

 

"Dad please bring some water and cloth,"  Joxer didn't even notice when the slender bald man hopped up in responce and brought a bowl of cool water over.  "Do we have any burn salve?"  The skinny man shook his head.

 

"Go to Lydus' tent, he'll have some in his stores...have him come here and look over Joxer's injuries."  He looked to the guards, one of them left to fetch Lydus and some salve.  The other stood at attention waiting for a command or a dismissal.  He had seen the possesive flash in Gallus' eyes and didn't want to risk challenging him over the man they had brought to the chief.

 

They cleaned the salve and puss off the swollen flesh.  "The blisters burst.  It's gonna be painful for him...Poor thing,"  Idas reached for a fresh cloth and dampened it.  Idas brushed wet linnen over the red flesh with the tenderness of a mother.   He looked to Joxer's bare chest and the bruises from the day before painted there and his left side in a myraid of colors from purple to green as they had begun to fade, but years of abuse at the hands of the world in general had left its mark on the slender torso.  So many scars and divets in his body.  Gallus wanted to wrap the smaller man in a lamb skin lined with silk and keep him safe from ever being hurt like that again.

 

"Aleuas,"  The cheif caught the guard's attention.  He thrust the dagger hilt into the man's hands.  "Take this, give it to the women and send them away.  If they refuse to leave you have permission to kill them.  I don't want to see them near our camp again, that is to be made clear."

 

Pytheaus watched his son and husband fuss over the young man and he felt a mixture of pride and concern.  His son was smitten.  He had been prepared to offer his ox in exchange for Joxer. He had gotten Dymnos as a gift for his 18th year.  Gallus doted on that spoiled animal like nobody's business.  If he was willing to  give up his prized pet he must have been smited with a thousand of Cupid's arrows.

 

He was glad his son had found a consort.  Joxer looked to be in his early tewnties so he had some good years left in him to bear fruit.  He needed to put some meat on his bones sure, but that was easily fixed.  He might have been considered a bit goofy looking to some but it was ovbious that his looks were apriciated here.  Hopefully Aleuas didn't get any jealous ideas.  Joxer was Gallus' consort now.

 

It would be difficult to explain to the outsider but he was about to become part of their family.  Thanks to the the fertility potion that Pan had blessed them with their family was going to get larger.

 


 

It hadn't been an hour and the women were surprised to see one of the guards that had hauled their friend away come and hand Xena the very object they had come for.  "Your trade was accepted take this and leave our teritory."

 

"Where's Joxer?" Xena asked in a deadly calm voice.

 

The guard had stepped back just inside the barrier before he spoke, "He'll be staying here.  Chief Pytheaus accepted him as trade for the dagger and has given him to his eldest son... Now go, I have orders to kill you if you refuse to leave, not that I need do anything.  You women could die trying to enter our borders.  I'll just sand here and watch you fry to your bones if you care to try.  Xena looked to her singed finger tips and didn't doubt that they would burn if  they attempted it.  She frowned tempted to throw her chakram at the man and see if it could penetrate the barrier.

 

She turned and walked off fuming, but helpless, and killing guards or being burned by a curse...neither of thise things would help Joxer.

 

"Xena!  Were not leaving him here!  You...we cannot leave him in there...Owwww!"  She pointed at the gates accidentally hitting the barrier and yelping.  She cradled her hand.  It didn't look near as bad as Joxer's burn had but she felt that if she had held it there it might have burned right off.  She turned and followed her friend, "What are we going to do?  Just leave him there  you heard what that bastard had said.  Joxer is not a peice of chattle to be sold.  Even if he gets on our nerves he's our friend and not a slave."

 

"Don't you think I know that!" Xena snapped.  She stopped walking and Gabrielle nearly ran into her.  She sighed, "Give me time to think we need to get to the village anyway.  I just hope the gods are being kind to Joxer."

 

The women walked at a breakneck pace down the mountain side, making it in half the time it had with Joxer slowing them down.

 

At the gates of Colyros theys topped.  Xena looked to the blond woman.

 

"What are we going to do?"  The bard whined urgently.

 

Xena looked to her friend and suddenly thrust the offering in her hands, "You take that to the temple and sort things out here.  I'm going to have to enlist some help.  It may take a couple days to find him but I think he's our best bet.

 

"Who are you talking about?"  Gabrielle looked genuinly confused.

 

"I'm going to go looking for a thief," Xena gave a half hearted smirk.

 

"Autolycus?" She looked even more confused.

 

"Heard he had been sneaking around a few hours ride from here.  Something about a summer home for some governor or another.  Supposed to have diamond encrusted chamber pots or something in all the bedrooms."

 

Both women rolled their eyes  but it was their best bet.

 

"Who better to steal a person back than 'the king of theives'," Xena said as she turned toward the stables to get Argo, "Pray for Joxer's safety."

 

Gabrielle nodded as her companion ran off.

 



Joxer was really trying not to panic.  He  had been taken to a tent stripped bathed slathered in "healing balm"  It smelled suspicously like rosed and lavander.  And he was given a clean pair of linnen pants and shirt.  When he tried to leave two particularly disgruntled looking men with pikes glared at him.


"You were told  to get some rest,"  The larger of the two with dark almost sooty looking skin and a gash running from his forehead to his chin nodded to the pallet of lamb skins and soft looking furs in the corner of the tent.

 

"That's nice and all but its been a few hours and I think my frieneds might be worried about me," Joxer pleaded in the manliest voice he could muster.

 

"Those women? They're gone.  Why would they stick around once they sold you to us,"  The dark brooding man explained impatently.

 

"S-sold me?"  Joxer grabbed at his damp hair with both hands and yelped as he brought his burnt hand down to his chest protectively again.  He looked with big doe eyes at the two men pleading. Praying they would crack and start laughing at his expense.  Being humilated by such an elaborate joke would be far better than being a slave.  A slave, he was sure in this circumstance, who would be walking funny for the  rest of his miserable life if the looks he had been getting were any indication. He whimpered pitifully and fell to his knees on the packed dirt that was the floor of the tent.

 

The guards frowned.  It was bad enough they were forced to watch Gallus flaunt his prize but now they had to baby sit him.  Though neither man had to complain when it came to watching him be bathed.  He had quite the pretty figure.  So slender and fragile.  Most of the men in camp were walls of muscle.  While some of them apriciated that sort of beauty,  the fairer beauty of a willowy figure with skin as smooth and white as goats milk was so sought after.  The bigger man felt an elbow to his ribs and he looked to his companion who smirked and whispered, "You're drooling."

 

Joxer worked himself up with worry so badly that he eventually just collapsed in a faint and the smaller guard  tucked him in to the soft furs.

 

"I don't know weather to envy or pity Gallus,"  He chuckled, "The little guy is really pretty to look at but really annoying to listen to."

 

"I think the only sounds he'll be making for Gallus will be screams of pleasure,"  The larger of the two unabashedly watched the small man sleep, "If  I had a death wish I'd like to sample him."

 

"You'll lose your head if  you keep talking like that,"  The other came back to stand beside him.

 

"Which one?"  he chuckled.

 

"The one that's doing all your thinking, but then probably the other one will follow soon after if you dare touch him."

 

"A man can have his fantasies can't he?"

 

"If it stays in your pants," A dark warning came from behind.  The men stiffened and parted letting the chief in.  He was followed by his son who's teeth were clenched so tight he thought they'd crack.  He glared at the guards and hissed out an order, "Leave us."

 

Soon the tent flaps were closed and Gallus was at Joxer's side.

 

The man laid the back of his hand against Joxer's cheek, "He's warm.  You don't think he's feverish do you father?"  Gallus rolled back the furs to give him some breathing space.  He lifted Joxer's slender wrist and examined the re-bandaged hand.  He felt bad that he had accidentally opened his wound in his rush to see what had been done to him.  The bandage was stained with a little blood and a healthy slatering of salve.  Gallus traced the veins in Joxer's wrist with his thumb then kissed the pulse point.  He lay the injured hand back on his chest and looked at his father expectantly.

 

"Relax  son he's probably just over worked with excitement.  You need to give him time to adjust.  If  you were in his place do you think you would fare better?"  He waited patiently for what he said to sink in.  When Gallus leaned back and nodded silently he continued to speak, "I was lucky to find  your dam, and beleive me that first few months were like being in Tartarus, but once I won his trust your dad and I connected and I don't know what life before him was anymore.

 

Now...Did I ever tell you how we met?  Idas was the son of a bastard.  He forced the poor boy to steal and Idas nearly got his hands chopped off by a merchant.  I happened to be with your grandfather selling some of our bows, lyers, and flutes for a festival honoring the hunt.  Our goods were of course all dedicated to Puck...anyway never mind...there he was with his hands tied to a chopping block and an angry fish monger about to chop them off and my Father stopped him.  Idas looked so scared.  Father handed over a pouch of coins and told me to cut him loose.  'He's yours now son,  You better take good care of him.'  Father had just bought a person... not just any person.  He had given me my mate.  My life.  Idas fought it at first  but he really didn't have anything to go back to.  I took my time with him treating him like an injured doe.  I gently coaxed him to me and one night he climbed into my bed and we gave our purity to each other.  After that he took Pan's potion and a year later we had you."

 

"Then Theos, then Nestor, then Ceyx and Kimon," Gallus filled in the rest.

 

"Yes and maybe you'll be getting another brother soon if the potion takes again,"  His father had a twinkle in his eye.  Idas had been wanting another baby, but Pan had explained it would be less likely to take as he got older and if it didn't take after the third try then Idas had passed the age of fertility.  They had tried last summer and failed and in the winter he had been getting a chubby waist  but unfortunatly a bout of cramps resulted in a loss of the baby.  His father had made Idas promise to wait until at least spring to try again and if it didn't take they would not try after that.  Idas' health and safety was more important than bringing another little Gargarean boy into the world.

 

"If things don't work out maybe you can placate him by giving him his first grandson."  Pytheaus  reached over and smoothed Joxer's hair affectionatly, "In the mean time I think Idas has taken to him.  He's making some lentel stew for the boy.  We'll get him fattened up so that he can carry your progeny safely."  Pytheaus gently nudged his son's chin with his closed fist, "Everything's goning to work out Son."

 

"Thanks father,"  He accepted the affectionate touch of his sire.

 

"Be wary son  even an abused man can be reluctant to part from his tormentor.  If he hadn't run away from them in the first place he might be too enthralled of them to have the will.  You'll need patence if  you want more than an unwilling bed warmer."

 

Gallus shook his head and turned to his love sleeping fitfully.  Joxer looked so helpless and innnocent how could he not want him.  He wondered if Joxer was a virgin, or was he used for lustful enertainment?  It's hard to tell, if women were his masters...They were vicious creatures and knew ways to keep a male cowed and obedient.  His great-grandfather had told stories of the Amazon's and their cruelty toward his tribsmen, and himself.

 

He had been only fourteen when they took him and younger his brother.  They played with him and humilated him and when they had him arroused and begging they bound his cock and took turns riding him until he passed out.  That went on for a month or two, he was only fed enough to stay alive and he was forcd to sleep in his own filth when they hadn't dragged him out to be used.

 

That was until one of the women started showing a swollen stomach.  This particular one had seemed to like him and had taken him several times by force.  One night, she took him for the last time then cut his binding.  He barely remembered how to walk.  She pointed the dagger at his heart and commanded him to get up.  When he stumbled forward she caught him with a slap to the face.

 

"The girls are getting bored with you, but you gave me a child so I'm going to give you the kindness of an honorable death,"  Something in him told him to run away.  He didn't know if  the gods were watching over him or if  it were sheer luck  but he pushed the woman with all his strength.  She slipped in his filth and he somehow managed to get out of the cage he had been kept in.  He didn't know if  she had been knocked unconcious, or somehow killed, but he did know if he didn't get out he'd be dead by the next morning.

 

He ran and ran until the next day he collapsed but was found by a tribesman and nursed back to health.  They had rarely seen the men who were taken returned.  It took months of recooperation for him to get back to as close to normal as he would ever be, and he never saw his little brother again.  He had only been twelve years old.  Gallus shuddered at the thought.  Someone so young and innocent at the hands of those deviants.

 


That was what made him he realized his people needed to escape the grasp of the Amazons.  Few were willing to even listen to him.  Fewer still brave enough to follow as he walked away from the only life he had known.  Several decades later found his people among the mountains of greece far from the warmer teritories of his ancestors and out of reach of the women who had kept his people locked in that strange simbotic relationship.

 

Gallus sat thinking, and absently petting Joxer's silky locks, "Everything's gonna be all right."  He leaned down to brush his lips over the crown of Joxer's head.

 



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