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Xena: Warrior princess
"Twilight"

Intro: We all know Gabrielle isn't dead but this short little story wouldn't
leave me alone till I wrote it down.:-) Warning: Major spoilers for the last two or so eps of
Xena last season.


A weary Iolaus entered a small tavern in the villiage of Tominious.
Tominious was a fishing town on the east coast of Greece.
The sun was just setting below the horizon creating a magnicent view of
the fishing boats coming in for the day.
However Iolaus saw none of it as he sat down at the bar. It seemed like
he had been walking for years,but in reality it had been only six hours
since he had left Hercules in Atentheious.

After ordering bread,stew and a cold glass of ale Iolaus blocked out the
conversations around him.
That was untill a human weight slammed into his back sending him almost
sprawling over the bar.
The blond man whirled around angerily shoving the man off of him,"Can't
a man get a decent meal and a little peace in this town?!"
Iolaus blinked in surprise as he saw the cold eyes of the man who had
started the brawl.
"Joxer?!"The hunter asked in a shocked voice as he took a step forward.
The young lanky brown haired man in mis-matched armour nodded in
acknowledgement,"Used to be known by that name. What's the matter? You
want a knuckle sandwhich too? 

Iolaus shook his head well aware of all eyes on him,"Joxer,its
me,Iolaus."
Joxer shrugged,"I don't really care what your name is."The warrior
wannabe said softly as he sat back down at his table by the back
wall,"If you want a fight I'm your man, if not just leave me alone."
Iolaus gave a withering glare to the crowd of onlookers and they quickly
went back to their drinks and the hub of conversation returned. His own
meal at the bar forgotten Iolaus pulled a spare chair over to Joxer's
table and sat down. For the first time he noticed the four empty glasses
on the table.
"How drunk are you?"Iolaus asked softly.
Joxer shrugged as he picked up the fifth glass,"Don't care."
Iolaus studied the young man wondering what possible tradegy could have
happened to Joxer to make him this cold hearted. This empty.

"Joxer? What happened?"Iolaus asked with concern.
Iolaus's question seemed to penetrate Joxer's alcholol induced mind. The
dark haired man set the glass back down on the table with a loud thump.
"You really don't know,do you?"Joxer asked sadly.
Iolaus frowned,"If you could give me a subject I might be able to narrow
down the answer."
"Xena."Joxer replied simply.
/okay now we're getting somewhere./ "Is Xena in trouble?"Iolaus asked.
"You could say that."Joxer replied his attention wavering to the small
window by the front door.
"If you tell me where she is I can get a message to Hercules and we can
go help her."Iolaus suggested trying to get Joxer's attention back to
the matter at hand.
Joxer shook his head,"Too late to help."He took another sip,"Couldn't
get there in time."
Iolaus stiffled a sigh,"Is she hurt? Did Gabrielle send you to get a
healer?"

The dark shadow of pain that flickered across Joxer's face startled
Iolaus. Realization started to dawn on Hercule's sidekick,"This isn't
about Xena,its about Gabrielle. Joxer tell me what happened?"
Joxer finished off the glass of ale and signaled the bartender to bring
him another,"She's gone.Poof."
A knot of fear started to form in the pit of Iolaus's stomach,"Gone?
What do you mean gone?"
Joxer glared at him,"I mean gone as in the Alysian fields! Gone as in to
never be seen again."

"Gabrielle's dead?"Iolaus asked in shock,"How?"
Joxer took the mug from the waiter while trying to force the painful
memories away,"Xena, Gabrielle, Calisto and I teamed up to fight Dahuk."
Iolaus blinked in surprise,"Wait a minute Xena teamed up with Calisto?!"
Joxer nodded matter of factly,"Its a long story that really doesn't
matter now. The main thing is that Hope had teamed up with Aires to
bring her father into this world. Xena told me later that Aries had
called in his favor to Gabrielle. If Xena killed Hope the Fates would
cut Xena's life thread. Of course Gabby being Gabby couldn't let that
happen."
Iolaus's blue eyes clouded with sadness,"So she prevented Xena from
killing Hope and died in the process."He finished softly.
Joxer nodded as he finished off the mug of ale,"I got knocked out during
the fight. By the time I came too Gabrielle was already struggling with
Hope on the edge of this casim. Before Xena or I could move they both
fell......"

Iolaus signaled the waiter for his own glass of ale,"How's Xena handling
all of this?"
Joxer shrugged,"I don't know. After Gabby.......after
Gabby......fell.....I turned tail and ran. Got out of that cave as fast
as I could and never looked back."He met Iolaus's gaze,"That's my new
nickname 'Joxer the coward'. That's what I am and all I'll ever be."He
took another sip,"Xena was right when she called me a fool."

Iolaus shook his head as the waiter set a glass in front of him,"You're
not a fool or a coward Joxer. Gabrielle knew that."
Joxer shook his head,"A lot of good I was to her,wasn't I? Couldn't
fight when she needed me the most. Couldn't even tell her that I loved
her when I had the chance. Now she'll never know."

"I'm sure she knew,Joxer."Iolaus said softly,"Gabrielle's heart had that
special quality. She could sense the good in people no matter how bad or
evil they seemed at first. If they were worth saving Gabrielle was the
person to do it."
Joxer nodded as he raised his mug,"A toast then,to Gabrielle."
Iolaus raised his own mug unshed tears making his blue eyes even
brighter,"To Gabrielle."

End