More Than a Fool
word count: 1417
A/N: Takes place during Been There, Done That (s03e2).
Disclaimer: I don't own Xena or Hercules.
Joxer woke thrashing about, a scream starting to erupt from his throat. Suddenly strong hands were on him, gripping him tight and shaking him.
“Joxer!” Xena said his name, as if she were shocked to see him. “Joxer stop!”
He stopped the scream but he could barely catch his breath, gasping in fear, at remembered pain. His hand went to his chest of its own accord and he looked down, a weird calm suddenly filled him. “Blood. There was blood.”
“You look fine, probably a nightmare.” Gabrielle grumbled peeking out of the hay on Xena's other side. “Go back to sleep.” She rolled over and dozed off again.
He looked into Xena's eyes, both of them still in shock. “I swear there was blood, swords. I couldn't get my fire in time...and I can't heal myself. Xena...did I dream that? Or did I die yesterday?”
“I had the same dream...” She shook her head. “But maybe it wasn't a dream, not if we both experienced it.”
“Oh gods, I died.” He started breathing fast again.
“Joxer, calm down, breathe with me, that's it. Good.” Xena's voice was calm now, soothing and he matched his breathing to hers.
“I don't understand. Cupid said I have a soulmate and I'm supposed to meet them. I can't die here Xena.”
“And you won't, not if I have anything to say about it.” She pressed her lips to his forehead, a gesture of comfort.
He pulled back from her. “So now what?”
“We could get out of this town before anything goes wrong.”
“But Argo needs new shoes.”
“We'll just have to avoid any fights then.”
He opened his eyes the barn still mostly dark and grumbled. Why couldn't he have slept in this morning after yesterday...when Argo died. Joxer sat up and looked around, there were horses in the stable. And... Argo.
“Xena! Xena wake up!”
She opened her eyes and glared at him. “What?”
He pointed. “Argo.”
Xena's eyes snapped to the stall where Argo had been the day before, before she was killed. Where she stood now, absolutely fine. “Argo!” She was up in a flash, petting Argo and crooning to her.
Gabrielle struggled awake. “I think she loves that horse more than us.”
Joxer rolled his eyes. “Give her a break Gabrielle, it’s been a rough couple of days.” The bard gave him a confused look before laying back down, snuggled in the hay. He stood and joined Xena, he wanted to pet Argo too, to reassure himself that she was alive and well. Argo certainly didn't mind the attention.
“Xena, what's happening? I mean I died, and the day started over. Then Argo died-” Argo made a distressed sound and he smoothed his hand over her side in comfort. “And it’s started over again.”
“I don't know Joxer.”
“Think it will stop if we destroy the town?” He asked.
“Thought your father was the warlord, not you.”
Joxer shrugged. “My death was an accident...” He felt his face twist in anger. “But they murdered Argo. I'd be okay with setting the entire town on fire.”
Xena pulled him into a one-armed hug. “I appreciate the thought Joxer, but we're not here to destroy the town. Something powerful is at play here, something we need to prevent.”
“Or the day will just keep repeating itself?”
“Possibly. Come on, let’s get some breakfast...and Joxer.”
“Gabrielle doesn't like goose eggs.”
Joxer woke up with a tired sigh this time and nudged at Xena, not even bothering to sit up himself. “Xena.”
She opened her eyes and turned to look at him. “Joxer.”
“Is Gabrielle over there?”
Xena reached into the hay where Gabrielle had been every other do over and nodded. “She's here.”
He groaned. “That was scary. I've never watched a friend die before. I couldn't get my white fire into her fast enough, she was dead before she hit the ground.”
She nodded. “And now we get to try again.”
“You sure setting the town on fire wouldn't help?”
Xena shook her head. “It’s more tempting now, but no. Come on.”
He woke up and didn't even bother to open his eyes; he did, however, smack at Xena, who smacked him back much harder. “Ow!”
“Don't smack me then.”
“Tying us up didn't help anything did it?” Joxer asked.
“No... but at least neither of you died.” Xena huffed at him.
“What are you two talking about?” Gabrielle grumbled. “The rooster hasn't even crowed yet.”
Joxer sighed. “Gabby, you don't wanna know.” Xena, however, was up with her chakram in hand. “Xena what are you-?”
“What if it’s the rooster?”
He buried his face in his blanket as he heard the rooster die a sudden and painful death.
“Why don't I remember any of this?” Gabrielle stomped her foot. “Why does Joxer?”
Xena sighed. “I don't know Gabrielle.”
“It’s not fair!”
“It’s not fun either.” Joxer snapped at her. “The first time, I died. The second, Argo died. The fifth time, you died...and I've lost count since then. All three of us have died a couple of times though.”
Xena smirked at him then. “That made Joxer snap and set fire to the entire town. Which didn't help.”
“I felt better though.” He offered and winced when Xena smacked the back of his head. Sometimes he missed wearing a helmet and armor.
“Okay, sorry, just...why don't I remember?”
Joxer shrugged. “Xena is probably the hero who's supposed to stop this.”
“And you?” Gabrielle asked, brow raised.
“I'm under Cupid's protection ever since Aphrodite almost got me killed.” He blinked as an idea took hold. “Hey Xena...think Cupid has a connection to all this? Like that young couple we keep seeing. They're never surprised by what's happening.”
Xena latched onto that thought with glee. “You might be on to something Joxer.”
“You sure this will work?” Joxer asked. “You've been figuring out all the angles for days now.”
“It’s our only shot Joxer. If I can throw my chakram just right I can stop everything.”
“Technically it’s not our only shot, we have forever to figure it out.”
“What are you two talking about?” Gabrielle demanded. “We have to stop this!” She gestured to the fighting all around them. “The entire town has gone crazy!”
“Later Gabby, Xena is working!” Joxer guided her away from the fighting. “We'll just go back to the stable where it’s safe. No worries.”
“You're both crazy too.”
Xena was up before him this time and threw her chakram just as the rooster crowed. She wasted no time in running to the north side of town. Joxer smiled and lay back down, she'd let him know if it worked or not.
“What was that about?” Gabrielle asked.
“Tell you later.”
An hour later Xena came back into the stable and lay down between Joxer and Gabrielle. “It’s over.” She grumbled.
He didn't even raise his head. “You stopped Hermia from taking the poison?”
“And made peace between the families.” Xena confirmed.
“Since it was Cupid's interference, him granting Neron that wish it makes sense that you remembered everything.”
“Since I'm under Cupid's protection.”
“Are you two going to tell me what you're talking about?” Gabrielle asked, wide awake.
“Later Gabrielle.” Xena assured her. “I just wanna sleep for today.”
“Mmm.” Joxer agreed, already nodding off. Now that it was over, he wanted that long nap too.
The rooster crowed. Joxer's eyes snapped open and he saw Xena do the same. “What do you think?”
“Usually we wake up before the rooster.” She replied feeling on her other side. “Gabrielle's not here.”
The stable door opened and Gabrielle stepped inside, bright smile on her face. “Rise and shine! I got us some bread for breakfast. There wasn't much available in the market, everyone is still partying because the feud is over.”
Joxer grinned and laughed. “Good work Xena.”