The characters belong to Studios USA and Renaissance Pictures and were used without permission. No copyright infringement was intended and no money was made.
Explicit male/female sexual situations. Violence: None unless you count JoxAbuse (tm)
This is the fourth story in the Pillow Talk series, following Pillow Talk, The Look of Love and My Favourite Mistake. Joxer and Gabrielle try to come to terms with their accidental encounter a few nights ago, and end up complicating things further.
You can also find Xebbie's stories at The GJerotica Archives and Xebbie's Adult Fics
Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
Accidents Will Happen
Twisting and turning, your feelings are burning
You're breaking the girl
(She meant you no harm...)
Think you're so clever, but now you must sever
You're breaking the girl
(He loves no one else...)
--The Red Hot Chili Peppers, "Breaking the Girl"
Joxer sat by his campfire and tried not to think about Gabrielle.
This was not only unusual for him, it was downright unnatural. Normally, on the nights when he was separated from his beloved and their warrior friend, all he did was think about the blonde bard. Just sat, and thought, and thought, and maybe ate a little, and thought some more, sometimes out loud and sometimes silently.
But now he couldn't. Now it had all changed. She had finally shown some compassion towards him, and he'd...
Boy, he'd fucked it up royal.
It wasn't as if he'd forced her into anything, but he just should have known better than to take advantage of her like that. He sighed; it had started so well, so beautifully... They'd fought, and he'd finally realized- or so he'd thought- that she just didn't want him around. So he left, before he could let it sink in, before he started crying or something. Instead, she'd been the one to start crying; he'd come back immediately and she'd told him that she really cared for him, and- wonder of wonders- hugged him and apologized to him. He could have died a happy man.
Then she kissed him.
He reminded himself of that; she had kissed him. It didn't give him much comfort, as she was obviously in a state of extreme emotionality; she had probably meant it as a gesture of friendship or something, anyway, and instead of doing what a gentleman would have done and backing down he had done anything but and-
And, well, it had been incredible. The peak sexual experience of his life. And it had also probably cost him any possible chances of winning the heart of the only woman he'd ever loved, ever would love, all for a night of passion. The worst part was, even though every bit of his soul felt sick and guilty over it, his body didn't seem to get the message.
He crossed his legs and stared into the fire. He absolutely, positively, would not think about it that way. It was a terrible thing he'd done, and it was not arousing. No. It wasn't.
"Stop that," he muttered to his crotch, frowning. Geez, if he was feeling this way, maybe he should just go visit Meg or something. But he grimaced at the thought; Meg would always be a friend, but he could never go see her that way again. Not after his night with Gabrielle. It just wasn't the same.
He'd better get to bed- yeah- sleep this off. Because although he hated himself for it... The memory of that night was making him feel, er, flushed. He lay down onto his bedroll and put his hands under his head... Come on, think of anything else. Think of her face the next morning when she realized you'd taken advantage of her trust. Instead, his mind betrayed him and thought of her face as she screamed her orgasm to the sky. He bit his lip and squirmed. She'd said his name as she was coming, too- the memory brought an involuntary shudder from him.
Damn it, this was doing no good. He flipped over onto his stomach. Now go to SLEEP, idiot. But she wouldn't leave his mind; the way she'd climbed onto his lap, the way her tongue had met his... He realized that he was grinding his hips, ever so lightly, against the ground.
"Oh, fine," he said, angrily, more to get it over with than anything else. He sat up, yanked his pants down a few inches, and went for it. With gusto; he was semi-hard already, and the friction of his hand quickly stiffened him the rest of the way. Images filled his mind as he began a frenetic pace, memories from that night- that incredible night... Gabrielle's first kiss, so sweet, so chaste, so quickly replaced by passion... Her breasts, as they'd felt when she'd taken his hands and guided them there, and then after she'd removed her top-
He grasped himself tighter, increased the pace of his hand against his shaft, his breath already coming in gasps... He squeezed his eyes shut and thought again of that night.
Oh, her moans filling his ears as he let himself touch her everywhere, the way he'd always wanted... The mere memory of the taste of her mouth made him shiver- and the taste of her skin, the tight nub of her nipple against his tongue-
"Gods," he rasped hoarsely, lifting his hips off the ground as his fist worked against his flesh. He was really aroused; normally it took him much longer to get this far. Briefly he considered slowing down, working the head for a while, but gave up on that as it became clear that his blood was already boiling more than enough.
And even during that decision he kept thinking of her- of the glorious moment of entry into her body, her clammy hands pawing at his back, her body arching to his and her hips bucking-
And then past reality melted into fantasy, as he imagined parting her legs, kissing her thighs, licking her centre slowly, softly at first and then with more force- penetrating her with his tongue-
Oh Gods, he was close-
The thought of her aiding him to climax overtook him, and how wonderful it would feel to have her hand around his aching manhood, squeezing and pulling and rubbing- and then covering him with her mouth, running her tongue up his shaft and circling the head and- and down-
He lost his control then, before he could complete the fantasy, as his orgasm exploded from his body. It went everywhere, although he managed to aim away from his face.
Collapsing back onto his bedroll, he panted for a moment, then grimaced. "You're a sick bastard, Joxer," he muttered to himself as he grabbed a rag and wiped his hand clean, then dabbed at the splotches that had hit the pelt he lay on. Finishing, he threw the rag into the fire, and turned his back to it. "Sick, sick bastard."
He slept, though not well.
Gabrielle had been quite tense lately, Xena noticed. She couldn't help but notice it actually, because when Gabrielle was cranky everyone around her knew it. She griped about petty little things, and Xena's general response to it was to shut down a bit and sort of ignore it- and her best friend. Of course, this generally bothered Gabrielle at least as much as whatever it was that set her off in the first place, but that wasn't Xena's problem to worry about.
This time, however, Xena knew something was really wrong. Because when Xena shut Gabrielle out to let her vent her frustrations, Gabrielle let herself stay shut out. No complaints of how insensitive the warrior was; it was like Gabrielle relished not being asked about it. Obviously, therefore, something had happened.
It had started when Gabrielle had caught up with her in Parnassis after she'd had to ride Argo ahead for a while; the bard had met her, alone and oddly jumpy, that night- and hadn't changed much for at least two days. Xena had asked what the problem was, only to be told too cheerfully that there was no problem- everything was quite normal, fine, wonderful even.
And of course there was the first effort at finding out where Joxer was. A fan of the direct approach, Xena had just up and asked Gabrielle. The reaction this garnered was a lot more extreme than Xena had ever expected; the blonde bard had tensed up, and growled "I don't know" out of the side of her mouth. Xena had noticed her knuckles turning white against the wood of her staff. So it involved Joxer, whatever it was, but Gabrielle so obviously didn't want to talk about it that Xena let it lie. And gradually, Gabrielle worked herself out of the odd knot she was inexplicably tied in; by now, she was nearly normal again. Except for the still-present tension that had only been slightly lessened.
Although the warrior was a firm believer in working out your own problems, she had a feeling she was going to have to step in this time, even if only to make sure that her two friends smoothed things out.
"So," Xena said experimentally in camp that night, "where's Joxer?" Gabrielle, cleaning the dishes after dinner, noticeably tensed again. Xena watched her best friend continue with her chore, her movements becoming more and more forceful. "How am I supposed to keep track of him?" she asked, peevishly.
Xena shrugged. "I was under the impression that you and he were going to meet up with me in Parnassis. It's always a pleasure to see you, but no sign of Joxer, and no explanation as to where he's gone. Did he say anything, or just sneak off in the night?"
Gabrielle quite distinctly froze, for just a split second. Then she turned, and smiled casually. "Oh, now I remember- he said he had some business to take care of, and he'd catch up with us. In about a week or so, he said." She wiped the dish she'd been cleaning for the past five minutes, one last time. "And before you ask, no, he didn't say what business it was."
"Uh-huh," Xena said shortly, and went back to sharpening her sword. Gabrielle knew that "uh-huh". She hated it. That was the "I-think-I-know-something-now" noise that Xena used to make her nervous. She sighed. "What."
With an innocent look, Xena met her friend's eyes. "What what?"
"You know perfectly well what 'what'." Gabrielle crossed her arms and stared. "What was the 'uh-huh' for?"
"Oh, just taking in what you said, that's all."
The blonde sighed in frustration. "And have you come to any conclusions?"
Xena smirked. "You fought with Joxer, didn't you?"
Whatever response Xena was expecting from Gabrielle, what she got wasn't it. The bard flushed, and seemed to invert in on herself, an uncomfortable look on her face.
"Gabrielle?" Xena said, alarmed at her friend's response. "Are you okay??"
Gabrielle shook herself out of it- or maybe it was just a shudder, one of the involuntary kind- and swept her hair back. "Fine," she said, "and yes, Joxer and I had a... situation. We decided to part company. But he's coming back," she added quickly.
Xena was worried now. Gabrielle got fed up with Joxer all the time, especially while Xena was away; it didn't make sense that she'd have such a morose reaction, nor did it seem to make sense that they would have parted ways this time. "Your decision, or his?"
"Mutual," Gabrielle said. She averted her eyes. "It's really nothing, Xena. It's over now anyway."
"If you want to talk about it-"
"No. No, come on, you know me! Joxer and I are like- siblings, really, always arguing, and then we turn around and everything's fine!" She looked suddenly uncomfortable. "Well, not so much like siblings I guess- more like-"
"Don't worry about it, Gabrielle," Xena interrupted. "I've seen you and Joxer, and I know exactly what you're like, so you don't have to spend an hour looking for just the right term." She grinned. "Now I'm going to catch up on my sleep, and unless you want to be asleep on your feet tomorrow, I suggest you do the same."
Gabrielle nodded. "Good idea. Sleep is always a good idea." She moved forward and settled on her pelt, then proceeded to toss about for several minutes after, not staying in one position for more than a few seconds.
Xena rolled her eyes. It was going to be a long night.
However, she was asleep long before the blonde bard, who lay quite still and tried not to think of Joxer. She'd been doing such a good job of it, too, until Xena had to bring him up! Maybe she should just tell-
No, no, bad idea. Not only would she have to deal with Xena's disbelief over her bizarre judgement, but it wouldn't be fair to Joxer. He deserved a private life, although she wasn't entirely sure he had one. Then again, she realized as she thought back to their last time spent together, he MUST have one if he'd learned how to be THAT good in bed-
Stop THINKING about it!! she admonished herself.
She sighed. Normally, she would tell Xena. She told Xena everything. Normally, they might laugh over it or Xena might even share similar experiences of one-night stands. But not this. Ohhhhh, no. Xena had never slept with Joxer. There was no comparing here. Gods, Xena might even laugh, and somehow Gabrielle saw no humour in it whatsoever, so Xena laughing would be a Really Not Good Thing.
Sighing again, she rolled over a third time, onto her side. Yes, on her side, that was good because she and Joxer hadn't done anything while she was lying on her side- nope, nothing on her side, nothing on her stomach, but flat out on her back just made her feel kind of weird and queasy and maybe a little turned on, which was just so Not Good.
She wasn't turned on. She was angry, definitely angry, though she wasn't sure who she was angry at. She wished it were at Joxer. That would be so easy- just plant herself firmly in the belief that what had happened between them was his fault; after all, she had been crying, emotionally vulnerable over whatever stupid argument they'd had (and that was so dumb to begin with- why had she cried?! Talk about pathetic), and the next thing she knew she was waking up naked and he was getting dressed after having been naked, and they'd-
Okay. So that was a lie. Waking up naked wasn't the next thing she'd known, the next thing she'd known was that she was in a state of desperate arousal and Joxer was looking pretty darn good right about now. And the next thing she'd known after that, she was kissing him and climbing all over him and being licked in various spots all over her body-
Gabrielle stopped that train of thought as soon as she realized that her hand was brushing the smooth skin of her stomach very slowly, almost unconsciously slipping just under the edge of her green top. Stupid hand, she thought angrily, and moved it to cushion her head.
So, much as she might want to blame Joxer, she knew it wasn't his fault. It was all right there, in her memories- she'd started it, she'd kept it going- hadn't he even pulled back at one point?- and she'd sure as Hades finished it. So there was nothing left to do, no one left to blame, except herself. And Gabrielle hated blaming herself, especially when it came to Joxer.
Which was why she had tried so desperately not to think about him, until forced to by- she lifted her head and glared at a certain unconscious Warrior Princess- by clueless individuals with big mouths. Hmph. Yeah. If Xena had been awake, Gabrielle would have said that to her face. Really.
It was going to be a long night, Gabrielle realized. She shut her eyes and tried to force sleep to overtake her, but this led to a sort of random jumble of memories that might have been really, really pleasant if she only didn't feel so guilty and strange about who helped make those memories. She bit her lip, sighed, and rolled over onto her stomach, deciding then and there that she was not going to think about Joxer at all anymore.
Nope. She wasn't thinking about Joxer's tongue, either. Definitely not thinking about his tongue flicking her earlobe. And absolutely, totally, under no circumstances was she thinking about his tongue trailing a long, wet track down and across her neck, over her collar bones, and to the spot between her breasts.
That had been good.
Yes, Gabrielle thought as she rolled over again, it was going to be a very long night.
She was cranky and tired the next day, and more than a little frustrated although she didn't really want to admit to herself why she was frustrated, because it certainly had nothing to do with Joxer or his body or his incredibly smooth skin.
But she banged all of the pans together as she packed them up, stupid pans, and nearly threw her boots about in frustration when they wouldn't lace properly. Laces were stupid too. What she really needed was a society where you just thought something and it was done. The pans were packed, the laces were laced, everyone was happy.
"You okay, Gabrielle?" Xena asked her as they set off on their way, and Gabrielle grumbled something back that might have been a response but might also have been a complaint about the rock in her boot.
After another five minutes, during which she again nearly threw her stupid boot, they set out on the road for real, and Gabrielle's mood started lightening again. The "Joxer Experience" seemed well in the past, now, and she could talk to Xena about non-important little things that actually bore no real meaning in her life, but were just one of the many little moments she and Xena shared. Yeah, it was not only taking her mind off of it, it was even putting the whole thing into perspective-
But what was that clanking behind them?
Gabrielle went cold to the bottom of her boots a split second later, when she realized. He said a week! I can't handle this now!
Xena looked behind them, and waved at Joxer as he jogged up to them. "Don't look now," she whispered to Gabrielle, "but your best friend is on his way over."
"I'm aware of that," Gabrielle groaned quietly. Maybe she could ask Xena to distract him while she went on a long, long, long walk. Like, into the next town, or something.
"Hey Xena!" came his familiar voice, which Gabrielle found somehow welcome and terrifying at once. He caught up with them a moment later, stepping in between them and chatting. "I, uh, saw you guys up ahead and... y'know... thought I'd see how you were doing. So how are you doing? Been a while. Sorry I didn't see ya when Gabby caught up with you but this stuff kind of came up- stuff at home- y'know, had to take care of it, but since you guys are both okay I see you haven't had need of my heroics, so... Uh, good to see you again, Xena." He glanced down at the blonde, doing his best impression of a casual nod. It looked planned. "Gabrielle."
"Hello, Joxer," Xena answered tiredly, with the requisite eye-roll and slight smile.
Gabrielle couldn't bring herself to look at him, so she simply mumbled something along the lines of "hey" and walked a little faster. She wasn't sure if Joxer picked up on it or not, but he slowed a little and let her pass.
So, they continued this way, and Gabrielle remained silent for some time. Xena, as usual, made no effort to contribute to conversation without someone to get it going, and Joxer seemed to be reluctant to speak. Xena watched them both off and on again, a few times, not bothering to hide a smirk. Finally, she said to Joxer, "You know, I didn't expect to see you again so soon after your and Gabrielle's... 'situation'."
Joxer looked up at the Warrior Princess, who was grinning at him with a mischievous look in her eyes. Ahead of him, Gabrielle's shoulder straightened and she slowed. Joxer wasn't sure what to make of this; Gabby had told Xena? Well, that figured, they probably told each other everything. Friends did that. Evidently, however, neither realized how bad he felt about the whole thing, or else- he hoped, anyway- Xena wouldn't have brought it up.
"Well, uh-" he stammered, trying to think of a way to answer. "Guess I just can't stay away." Oooch, that sounded wrong.
Xena looked ahead again. "I figured that out a while ago," she said deliberately, and paused as Gabrielle took two quick steps backward to be in line with Joxer again. He looked at the bard curiously, but her face was tight, and she wouldn't look at him.
Yep, he'd said the wrong thing alright. Better try again. "I didn't mean it like- um, no, I just meant, it was my fault really and I wanted to make sure Gabby didn't blame hersel- OW!" He stopped as Gabrielle's staff came down, hard, on his foot.
"Oh, sorry, Joxer," she said disinterestedly, as Xena looked back in surprise. When the dark-haired warrior had looked away again, Gabrielle hissed in his ear, "I haven't told her, you twit!"
Joxer goggled at her, wide-eyed. "You- Oh, geez, sorry! It sounded like-"
"No!" she snapped. "And I'm not going to."
Well, she obviously didn't blame herself, then. Just him. He pouted. "I didn't know that," he said in a low whisper. "How was I supposed to know that? Sheesh."
The look Gabrielle gave him could have been used to skewer a pig for roasting over an open flame. "As if I'd tell her about that."
Ouch. He let himself fall behind her again as she turned away from him. After taking a moment to recover from that particular barb, he took a deep breath and told himself she was always like this.
But she wasn't always like this... he knew that now. And knowing made the snide remarks that much worse. He told himself it didn't matter; he told himself he was just going to have to live with being dedicated to a hopeless love.
More than anything, though, he knew that he should never, never, ever have made love to her, because now he knew exactly what he was missing. And boy, did he miss it, he thought while staring at her behind as she walked.
It was hours later before they stopped again, and it had been Xena's idea when they did. The long, tense silences were getting to the point where they were making even her uncomfortable. Gabrielle continued to avoid Joxer, and eventually told Xena she was going to the nearby river for a swim.
Joxer, in a mopey mood, sat in silence and watched Xena brush Argo down. She never looked directly at him, but could still see the pout on his face. Poor Joxer... so completely unable to hide his emotions. Then again, maybe he was just unwilling, she thought. A grin crossed her face.
"What?" Joxer asked crossly.
She shook her head. "Don't mind me. I was just remembering the last time you and Gabrielle had a fight, and how your expression was almost exactly the same."
He grunted in return. "This is different," he said sullenly.
"Sure." Xena patted Argo's flank and turned to look at Joxer. "One of these days, this will all be in perspective, and you'll look back and laugh."
Joxer surprised her by grimacing tensely and looking down at the ground. Not the normal, hopefully-wanting-to-believe-it kind of reaction she'd expected, but then, who could ever understand why Joxer acted as he did. She shrugged, and moved around to Argo's other side to finish the brushing.
It wasn't really a surprise when he spoke again. "I really-" He sighed. "I really feel like I oughta talk to her though, Xena. Just to... clear up a few, uh, issues." Why on earth did he sound so nervous? Xena wondered. This argument seemed so routine. She waited for him to go on. "Thing is, well, I just don't want her to think it's her fault. That's all. What do you think I should do?"
Xena gave him an expressionless look. "Talk to her."
"Oh." He straightened up, looking a little surprised. "Okay. Just like that?"
"Yep." What a genius.
"Okay. Well. So, okay, then. Right now?"
"No time better than the present, Joxer."
"Okay," he said, again, and if he said it one more time she thought she might well have to fling Argo's brush at his helmet. He stood up. "Uh, you wouldn't know- where she-"
"River. Down that way." She pointed with the brush, and watched with semi-interest as he started off, then returned, took off his helmet, and left again. Too late, she remembered that Gabrielle was swimming, and Joxer wasn't her favourite person just now. "Be careful!" she yelled after him, the best warning she could give under the circumstances. Although even if he'd heard it, the likelihood that he knew what she was talking about was slim.
She chuckled. "I have a feeling I'm going to be hearing about this one for some time to come," she said. Argo whickered impatiently and stepped closer to her. "Okay, okay, I'm getting back to you, girl," she said with another chuckle. "Other people have lives too, you know."
Gabrielle doused herself under the water for the fourth time, and let her hair fall down her back as she came back up. She felt a lot better- cool, composed, and at ease.
She hoped that if she kept telling herself that, she'd start to believe it. In fact, she felt only slightly better than she had when she woke up that morning; and not nearly as "better" as she had felt just before Joxer had joined them on the path. She was irritable again, nervous, uncertain how to act around him; her body felt odd, as if she were hyper-aware of it, and she dreaded having him look at her because she had a feeling he was looking at her as if he could see right through her clothes.
Oddly, she'd caught herself doing that to him several times now. That was unnerving enough in and of itself, but the realization that it made her... sensitive to the point where she needed a cold swim was downright unsettling. She dove under the water again, and stayed submerged until she felt a bit more calm. When she burst back to the surface, she found herself face-to-face with the very object of her frustrations.
A moment passed between them as their eyes made contact, and locked there; then the moment broke as Joxer's eyes drifted down from her face, and widened somewhat as they took in the sight of her body. Frantically she remembered that she was quite naked, and although the water was waist-deep there was still the matter of the portion of her body above the water. Joxer seemed quite interested in it.
"JOXER!!!" she yelled, and his head snapped up to her face again just as she covered her body with her arms and ducked beneath the water.
"Ah! Gabby, I- I'm sorry!!" he cried, regret filling his voice, and he gave her a very red-faced look of contrition before turning his back on her and standing with his head hanging against his chest. "I really am- I didn't know y-"
"You knew I was at the river, by myself, and it didn't occur to you that I'd be-"
"No!" he wailed, beginning to look over his shoulder at her and then catching himself. "I mean, it occurred to me, but then Xena told me to come talk to you, and so I figured-"
Gabrielle gritted her teeth. "Xena told you to?"
"Funny," the bard muttered, although her voice implied that she didn't see anything the least bit funny about it. "Yeah. Funny lady, that Xena. She's gonna hear about this."
Joxer chewed his lip, hoping this meant that he wasn't in trouble anymore. "Well-" He started to turn around, and she yelped.
"DON'T!" he heard, coupled with a loud splash, and he stopped.
"Sorry. I won't- I'm not looking, okay? But can I talk to you? Please?"
His plaintive tone made her anger lessen. She sighed, and shifted her kneeling position beneath the water so that she was more comfortable. "Okay. We do need to talk."
At the sound of her agreement, his posture visibly relaxed. He breathed a sigh of relief. "Great. Look, I just wanted to say... I'm sorry."
"Me too," she said instantly.
He shook his head. "No, you don't have to be. It's okay, it really was my fault. I had no right to- well, you know."
A frown creased her brow. "No, I don't know."
"Uh-" His voice took on a quaver. "What I- did. Last time."
"What we did, you mean." It hit her then- he was trying to take responsibility for it. "No! Oh, Joxer, it wasn't your fault! Really, it was mine, I forced myself-"
His reaction was instantaneous as soon as he realized she was going to blame someone other than him. "No no no, it was me. Really, Gabrielle, I should've just said no."
"Oh come on. I started it, and I made it very clear-"
"Gabrielle, as the man, it was my responsibility to-"
Joxer winced. Oops- evidently that wasn't the right thing to say. "Uh... I mean... Well," he straightened himself up and tried to look noble, "As the man in that situation, the ultimate decision of the events was mine." Gabrielle didn't answer, and Joxer realized that was a bad sign. "Well- that's what my parents told me. Um, not in so many words, really, I mean, my Dad kinda said that as a man, if I wanted something I was supposed to just take it, but-"
"That's stupid," Gabrielle said curtly.
Joxer hung his head. "Sorry."
"It's not your fault. I do have a will of my own, Joxer, and I made the decision to sleep with you."
Silence hung between them for a moment, as they both took in the fact that one of them had finally said it. Then, Joxer swallowed nervously. "W-well, I had a choice too, ya know."
Quietly, Gabrielle admitted, "Yeah, you did."
"So, I guess we're both to blame."
"Yeah." He shifted nervously, and found that his palms were covered in sweat. He wiped them absently on his breeches, trying to think of something to say. "And so... I'm sorry."
He assumed Gabrielle moved, as he heard a rippling in the water behind him. "Me too," she said softly. "I guess I just got caught up in the heat of the moment."
"Yeah," he said, and chuckled. "It was pretty hot." He froze after he said it- that was probably really dumb, wouldn't come out the right way- she'd probably kill him. To his relief, however, she laughed.
"It was," she agreed.
She moved again, and the rippling noise in the water reminded him with an uncomfortable suddenness that she was unclothed. He swallowed. "B-but... Well, I just didn't wanna mess up our friendship or anything, 'cause... 'cause you're really... special to me."
Gabrielle blushed. There was something in his voice, and in the way he said the words, that touched her heart. Although she was normally reluctant to admit that she really cared for Joxer, something in her opened up and she felt a need to return the sentiment. "You're special to me, too, Joxer. I... I meant what I said the other night... before everything happened."
"I do care about you. And I do want you to stay with- us," she caught herself before she blurted out "me", but her voice still caught, "and... you really are a great person."
"Really?" He turned to face her then, forgetting himself, and stared for a second before he jumped and covered his eyes. "Ah-sorry!"
"It's okay," she said gently, and wasn't alarmed this time to find that she didn't mind. She was mostly covered, after all. "It's easier to talk to your front than your back." She smiled.
He uncovered his eyes, but dutifully kept his eyes on the ground. "Well. You're... You're really..." He licked his lips, obviously nervous, and why did she find that so endearing? Endearing to the point of being... attractive...? A thought flitted through her mind, that she'd like to be the one licking those lips, and she sank a little lower in the water... but she didn't want him to leave.
His eyes flicked up to her momentarily, then back to the ground. "You're really something else, Gabby."
She laughed. She couldn't help it, really- it was just so... Joxer. He looked taken aback for a moment at her laughter, but then grinned, and chuckled himself. "Thanks," she said, warmly, and then he looked up and their eyes met, and- she felt something. A big something, something that set her heart pounding in her chest, and she remembered just how nice looking he was under that awful armour, and how soft his lips were, and how firm his hands...
She looked away, and he did too.
Keep your head clear, Joxer, he told himself. He should turn around again, or else she was going to see very clearly the direction his thoughts were going in. He moved sideways, hoping that would be enough to block his dilemma from her line of view, and cleared his throat.
She crossed her arms over her chest, and gripped her shoulders. "Well. In any case- now that we both realize that it was heat of the moment, it's not going to affect our friendship anymore, right?"
"Right," he said quickly and decisively. Boy, did he want to believe that. And the sooner they ended this discussion, the better.
"And it was heat of the moment."
"We didn't know what we were thinking!"
"Not a clue."
She gestured with her hand, splashing the water lightly. "It was really emotional for both of us, and that made us not think straight."
"Completely," he nodded solemnly.
"And we'll never do it again...?"
He paused, and looked up at her, making eye contact again. "Nope," he said quietly. "Never again."
She flushed, staring into his eyes as well. "Because... well, not that it wasn't nice..."
"It was definitely nice," he affirmed.
Nodding, she said, "Yeah..." Then she shook herself. "But even so, it's not good for our friendship..." He didn't answer this time. She forced herself to continue. "...To, ah, to do things in the heat of the, ah, the moment... because we can't... We need to be able to think-"
"To think about things," he offered, and she nodded.
"So things like that, in the heat of the moment, we can't..."
"Can't do anything."
"No." She let her arms fall from her shoulders, and drift in the water. He turned to face her again, and she saw this time the bulge in his pants, and the water was suddenly not nearly cold enough. Felt quite warm in fact. She stared, and he stared, and before she really knew she was going say anything she heard her voice: "Of course... We know what we're doing and thinking right now, right?"
"Uh, I do," he said, his voice low.
"I do too," she confirmed, and took a breath. "So that means... if we did anything now, it... wouldn't be in the heat of the moment."
She saw surprise in his face, and- although it might have been her own projected feelings, since he was so far from her at the moment- she thought she also saw a doubling of the lust that was already in his eyes. "No, it wouldn't!" he said, his voice full of amazement and- what? Eagerness perhaps? She almost said something else, then changed her mind, and simply stood up.
Joxer began moving as soon as she did, shedding armour and clothing with each step, taking in the sight of her body at the same time. The water glistened on her skin as if she'd been oiled; it was like she was glowing. He yanked his boots off, pulled his tunic over his head, and almost fell over as he shed his pants. She strode towards him, wading through the water, and he stumbled into the river, into her arms, into her lips.
Her kisses were hot, even though her lips were chilled from the water. The first kiss was intense, involving a lot of tongue and lips and a little bit of teeth, and even as she plunged into his mouth she ran her hands over his body with a desperate thoroughness. His hands were entwined in her hair as she reached his small nipples, and rubbed, squeezed, pinched for a moment before moving on; he moaned into her mouth as she ran her hands down his sides, around, and grabbed his butt. He yelped and broke their kiss.
She grinned up at him, and then kissed his collarbone. This quickly turned into licking, and she ran her tongue across his throat, up his neck, into the hollow of his shoulder. He shuddered- decided he'd better stop letting her do all the work, and traced light fingertips down her body, across her buttocks, around her hips and then up. Stopping at her breasts he cupped one in each hand and kneaded gently, smiling as she shivered against him and stopped the licking to lean against him as she whimpered. He kissed the top of her head.
"Joxer-" she said, raggedly, then ran her hands down his stomach, skirting the erection that stood up in plain view, dagger-straight and throbbing for attention. "It's bigger than I remembered!" she said in wonder, and Joxer was fairly sure it got even bigger after a comment like that. Nothing like feeding the ego to arouse him even further.
He dove for her neck, felt her pulse flutter against his lips, then against his tongue as he flicked against her skin. She whined, grabbed him tighter, and his erection pressed up against her stomach. She felt herself aching for him- it was like she needed to be filled by him, as though the void inside her was left because he was separate from her and only when he was in her would she be complete. She grasped his hips and pushed against them, thrusting her body against his manhood, marvelling at how hot it felt against her wet, cool skin.
He grunted, planting a hand at the small of her back, the other caressing her backside- gently at first, then more quickly, more intently, with abandon... He thrust his hips against her, grinding at her willing body, climbing blinding heights as she opened her legs and straddled his knee-
Then he pulled back, desperately. Too much at once. He watched her for a moment, his breathing ragged, as she looked back at him with half-lidded eyes and a slack mouth. "Gabby," he murmured, and she reached up to touch his mouth with her fingertips. "I've been- thinking about you- ever since-"
"Me too," she said, throatily, and as she moved her hand away she replaced her fingers with her lips. It quickly escalated, as she ran her tongue across his upper lip, then along the inside of his mouth; he took her lower lip gently in his teeth, and tugged very lightly, and she squeaked and grabbed his head and kissed him ferociously, wantonly- by the Gods, this woman was amazing.
When they broke, both were gasping, and he wasted no time in ducking his head to her breasts. They were still wet from her bathing, even though she'd been pressed against his chest for a little while now. He kissed the flesh, wetting his lips, and when he reached the underside of one she gasped. "Oh- oh, lick it Joxer- please-"
If he'd thought his blood was rushing before, it went even stronger at that. He ran his tongue lightly, in quick motions, at the swell under her breast- just knowing that she wanted this so badly made him tremble with arousal. His tongue travelled slowly, shakily, up the underside of her globe of flesh, to the nipple; he kissed it and licked it, then bit lightly and enjoyed her reactions. She dug her nails into his back, and kicked her legs lightly under the water, which splashed over both of them up to their belly buttons. The frigid liquid did nothing to cool either of their passions.
He kept going, still trailing his tongue across her body, his eyes wide open and watching her move and stretch and bounce as she writhed under his ministrations; then he stepped around behind her, swept her hair from her shoulders, and kissed and licked at the base of her neck there. He held her breasts, caressed them, in various different ways; and she pressed her body back against him, embedding his erection against the softness of her behind. Hmm, he thought curiously, but then decided against the stray thought. She was gasping, unaware of anything but his hands, his mouth, and her own need for him.
She lifted her arms over her head, encircled his head and neck behind her, and he kissed every spot on her that he could reach, then slowly, slowly ran his hands down her stomach, below her belly button, and between the folds of flesh at the base between her legs. "I- Oh... Joxer... You're so good at this..."
He didn't answer, but grinned to himself. He teased her, stroking the flesh of her inner thighs, letting his fingertips tickle her slightly, then splashing cool water against the hottest spot on her body. She grunted lightly, wriggling against him, and he caught her and held her. "Something wrong?" he asked teasingly.
She half-turned, frowning, no malice in her face. "You know what I want you to do."
"Really? You sure? I'm not that quick on the uptake sometimes-"
"Joxer," she said, and he caught a ragged sound in her voice, "you and I both know that when it comes to sex, you are very 'quick on the uptake'. Okay?"
He nuzzled at her neck and wrapped one arm around her waist, letting the other hand continue to tease her mercilessly. She shivered. "Mmmm," he murmured, "I like hearing you say that."
As he kissed her ear, she said with something that was as close to irritation as she could manage, "I won't say it again if you don't-"
"If I don't...?" Ah, sweet revenge. He grinned, knowing how much she must be hating this.
"If you don't... touch me, Joxer, Gods just do it!!" She snapped, grabbing his hand and forcibly guiding it within her folds. As he probed her flesh, his fingers circling and stroking her clit, she closed her eyes. "Ahhh- ahhhh, thhhhhhank you...."
"No problem," he muttered, all traces of playfulness gone with her sudden forcefulness. He was concentrating on her now, and on the sensations of her inner body, the heat, the wetness; he slid a finger into her slowly, and she bucked her hips, so he added a second one and rubbed her clit with his thumb as he thrust with his hand. This was mind-numbingly arousing- another few minutes and he was going to lose control completely.
Gabrielle whimpered, feeling herself mounting rapidly towards orgasm. She played with the idea of letting him finish her this way, but rejected it- she wanted him inside her, she desperately wanted him that way again, and if this continued much longer she'd come before they got the chance. Almost reluctantly, she made herself grab his hand, and pulled it away. The lack of stimulation against her made her realize how quickly her heart was beating, how heavily her blood was throbbing in her veins.
"Gabrielle...?" he said from behind her, uncertainty in his voice. She leaned against him, breathing heavily, and lifted his wet hand to her mouth, then licked her juices from his fingers. He watched her, open-mouthed, for a moment, before snapping into motion, turning her, grabbing her, a growl coming from deep in his throat. He kissed her, a kiss full of lust and want and need and limitless passion. She returned it, thrusting her tongue as deeply into his mouth as she could manage, licking the roof of his mouth; he made a whining noise from the back of his throat, tried to lay them both down, remembered they were in the water, and pulled away.
She looked at him. "Beach," he managed raggedly, and she nodded. He picked her up like she weighed nothing, carried her the few strides it took him to reach shore, and plunked her down again at the water's edge. She pulled him down to meet her, reaching up to lick his jawbone, his chest, circling his nipples with her mouth; turning him so that he was flat on his back, she straddled him, positioned herself, and impaled herself on his erection.
Joxer didn't suppress a cry of satisfaction as he entered her, so she took it as a cue to let herself go. The moans came quickly and intensely after that, as she established the rhythm, the position, the pressure and friction- she varied it, paying him back for his torture from earlier by slowing down and almost separating from him before slamming back against him with a fervor she could barely control. He grinned at her through the haze, his hair plastered to his forehead with sweat, and she bent and kissed his hairline, his nose, his lips- especially his lips...
He wound his arms around her, bent his legs and lifted his pelvis slightly, and she took the opportunity to ride him even harder, slamming down against his hips with greater and greater force. His hands found her clit again, and he stroked lightly as she bore down on him, while she kissed him and licked and sucked at his neck and lips, then sat up again and threw her head back and planted her hands firmly on the ground beneath them, while his fingers continued to work magic at her centre. It didn't take much longer, before she felt herself taking the final climb- she drew in a shuddering breath, her eyes shut, her mouth open as she breathed in gasps. "Just a- little more, Joxer," she coached him, and he kept his hand- now shaking noticeably- working at her clit, spreading heat through her body.
He stared as she moved, bucked against him, throbbed against his fingers; he denied his own nearness, waiting for her, intent on sending her over the edge first- and she looked so close! Her head was rolling on her shoulders, her lips flushed and trembling, here eyes half-closed, half-open. As he watched, enjoying his semi-voyeurism, she whimpered and shook and caught her lower lip in between her teeth; "Nhh, ahhhh-haaahhhh... Joxer- this- Ah, JoxER!"
The lower half of her body seemed to melt into an intense, beautiful burst of warmth; it spread through her loins, down her legs, through her stomach up to her arms, hands, everywhere. She beamed in sheer delight, seemed to glow for an instant, and felt Joxer's orgasm begin before she heard him give any indication. He sped up, thrust hard upwards, into her body, and held there. She ground down again, helping him and finding, to her delight, that the sensations thrilled her not-entirely-overtired body. "Yes, Joxer, do it... come for me," she whispered, and he looked up at her with raw emotion in his eyes. A helpless fear, a need, and a tender look she'd seen before but didn't ever want to admit. He smiled, weakly, but it lasted only a moment before his face dissolved into a mask of glory, passion, ecstasy. He called her name, and somehow Gabrielle thought his voice made him sound near tears.
Then, panting, his hips lowered to the ground again, and she fell onto him tiredly. They caught their breath, and he put his arms around her and held her against him while he could.
All too soon, she shifted with a slowness that spoke of a deep unease. When she looked up into his eyes, he saw it- the regret, the outright horror at what they'd done again. His heart twisted in his chest. "It wasn't your fault," she said quietly, and stood up.
Xena was halfway to the river when she saw them coming back. "Took you long enough!" she called, not bothering to disguise the irritation in her voice.
"Sorry," Gabrielle muttered as she passed her friend. Joxer lagged behind, looking at the ground as he walked. His hair was quite wet.
"What happened, Joxer? Ya fall in?" Xena asked, partly to break the mood she could feel settling over them, and partly to relieve some of her own tension from the needless worry she'd felt for her friends by picking on an easy target.
The lanky man looked slightly panicked as he searched for an answer. "Uh-"
"Yes, he did," Gabrielle said, an edge to her voice. "You know how he is."
Xena frowned, looking from the scowling bard to the sulking fool. Great. Leave it to them to be unable to even work out an argument between themselves. She snorted- looked like she was going to have to actually step in this time, and she disliked involving herself that way. "Well, I take it you two had a productive chat?"
"No," said Joxer, mournfully, while Gabrielle snapped "Yes!" at the same moment. She glared at Joxer, who swallowed. "I mean, yeah," he amended.
"Ah. Then you won't mind if I have to leave you two alone for a while, while I go save a town up ahead." It was a lie; there was no town. But she gauged their reactions, and found that both of them looked nothing more than terrified. "Well?"
"I- gah-" Joxer seemed to have something stuck in his throat.
Xena turned from him to Gabrielle, who had gone slightly pale. The blonde cleared her throat. "Are you... sure you don't need help?" she said in a shaky voice.
"Forget it. That was hypothetical," Xena told her. She gave both her friends a stern, if cranky, glance. "I'm sick of waiting for you two to get over this by yourselves. What is it."
They looked at each other. Some communication passed between them without words, and Xena was surprised. No matter what sort of conversation they were having, to be able to have a silent understanding took a kind of bond between two people. She hadn't been aware that Gabrielle and Joxer had one of any kind.
She cleared her throat. "Well?"
Gabrielle looked away from Joxer, back to her best friend. "It's... hard to explain."
"More of the usual?"
"...More or less." She shrugged.
Joxer piped up in agreement. "Yeah, same ol' same ol'." He grinned nervously, and Gabrielle swatted his arm.
"We were talking, and made some mistakes last time we were together. It... well, it changed the way we see each other." Gabrielle looked at Joxer, who was turning red and looking back over his shoulder, at the river. "Just now we tried to talk about it, and it only made things worse." She sighed, all anger going out of her face, and looked at the ground.
"Maybe I should just go," Joxer said suddenly, and began to force his way past the two women to get his things.
Xena grabbed him by the armour and dragged him back. "You're not going anywhere," she growled, "until this is settled. I don't need to know what this is about. What I do know is that you two are friends, and there's something between you that you can't just walk away from. Before you showed up, Gabrielle was a mess." She held up a warning hand before the bard could object. "And Joxer, I know that without us you'd be miserable. Wouldn't you?" He didn't answer, so she shook him. "Huh? Wouldn't you?"
He nodded, refusing to look at her. "Y-yeah, yeah I would."
"Uh-huh. And I want you to stick around. But that's only gonna happen if you and Gabrielle reach an understanding. Not if you run away. Not if you," she turned to the bard, "shut him out." She let go of Joxer, dusted off his armour, and stepped back to look at her two chastened friends.
"Now. Mistakes get made, things get said and done that you can't take back. And you know the only way you can get past 'em?"
"Pretend they didn't happen?" Gabrielle tried.
"Nope. Accept 'em. Big difference." She let this sink in. "Now most of my mistakes are my own, and the only person who has to accept them is me. However, the two of you are probably going to need to go over your mistakes more carefully. That's not up to me. Just keep in mind, however, that you gotta keep trying. When you fall off a horse, you get back on and ride." Gabrielle ducked her head, and Joxer nearly started laughing. Xena cocked an eyebrow at them. "Accidents will happen," she said, trying to ignore their reactions, "and if you two know what's good for you, you'll overcome that. Okay?"
"If we know what's good for us...?" Joxer asked quietly, eyeing Gabrielle.
Xena nodded. "Yep. Maybe you need to figure that out for yourselves, too. Now," she said, and her demeanor changed completely all in an instant, "who's hungry?? I caught food, but did you the favour of not trying to cook it."
Gabrielle broke into a hesitant grin. "I'll take care of it, Xena," she said, her ease coming more naturally now. She had some thinking to do. She looked back over her shoulder at Joxer, trying to send him the unspoken promise that she'd talk to him later. She didn't know if he got it or not; the worried look creasing his brow never changed.
Xena was certainly sneaky, cunning, and tactically brilliant. But when it came to people skills during sensitive situations, she was about as subtle as a Titan in a glade of nymphs. A few hours after dinner, she stood up and stretched. "Welllll, I'm gonna go on a walk." She gave them a big, careful smile. "You two enjoy yourselves, I'm sure you'll find plenty to talk about."
Gabrielle rolled her eyes as Xena left the clearing. Her friend had no sooner left, than Joxer turned to her and said, "Gee, now we can talk! Sure is lucky she needed a walk, huh?" She barely restrained herself from calling him a moron. And, oddly, as she restrained herself, she found herself smiling. Joxer was puzzled. "What?"
"Never mind, Joxer. I'll tell you later." She lay a hand on his shoulder. He looked at it nervously, but when he realized she wasn't going to take it away, he relaxed.
"So, I guess... we oughta talk."
She nodded. "But not like last time."
"Oh, no no no. Definitely not." He gave her a look of wide-eyed sincerity. "So... what do we do?"
Gabrielle sighed. "We accept it. Like Xena said."
"I don't know." She shook her head. "I wish we could just pretend it never happened... But that's just not going to work."
Joxer gave a sigh that was very distinctly one of relief.
She looked up at him sharply. "You're glad?"
"Uh-" He looked panicked for a moment, and then gained some resolve. "Well- yeah! I mean, I already told you that I... liked it, right?" She flushed, and he scrambled to modify the comment. "I mean, I'm saying, you did too, right? Not that we should keep doing it, but just that- I mean, we both wanted to, we both liked it, what's the harm?"
Joxer had said some strange things in the past. Even a few unfathomable things. But nothing had ever made so little sense to her as this comment. "...What??"
He held up his hands. "I'm just- Okay, let me start over. Gabby, you're a really great friend. Really. And I'm not saying this just 'cause you slept with me." From the look she was giving him now, she was rapidly losing patience. She glared at him with increasing ire, and reached for his ear. He cringed. "I'm just saying that we shared something really special and I don't want to pretend it didn't happen, okay??"
And with that, her expression changed. She blinked, thought it over, and then gave him a pensive glance. "I... you know what? You're... you're right, Joxer. It was special." More than that, she realized, it was special because it was with him. Because although she had so much trouble in the past letting him know how much she cared, she had managed to give him something to make him happy. Twice, now. But she couldn't think of a way to say that without giving the wrong impression, so she left it as it was. "Maybe that's how we should accept it, too."
He beamed. "Great."
"But-" She held a finger up to his lips, "That doesn't mean we'll be making a habit out of this. What happened- both times- was still a mistake, and we need to remember that next time, too."
His eyes widened. "...Next time?"
They fell into a shocked silence.
Finally, Gabrielle broke it. "Okay. Okay, I didn't mean that the way it sounded, but... it raises a good point. I..." She took a breath, and the expression on her face implied that she was having real trouble saying this. "Joxer, I do find you... mildly attractive."
"I think you're beautiful," he said in return, without hesitation.
She tried to fight the smile that this produced, and lost. "Well... thanks. Maybe I find you more than mildly attractive, too." He smiled again. "But... My point is that we can't let that overcome us again. If we're ever in a situation where we feel ourselves being overcome by desire like that- we need to stop, and think. Go on a walk, talk to Xena, something like that. We can't just give in to the heat of the moment like that anymore."
"You're right," he said, still smiling happily. "Absolutely right, like always."
Nodding, she patted his arm. "Good. Then we're agreed." He nodded as well. "Friends?"
"Best friends," he said, and took her hand in his own. They sat, looking at each other, for a while.
"Good," she said, finally breaking the silence. The word felt awkward, hanging in the air like that, but she was all too afraid she knew what was coming of the silence.
"Hey, Gabrielle?" he said, although she hadn't turned from him.
Something in the pit of her stomach tightened. She didn't know if that was good or bad. "Yes?"
"Um, what happened... it was an accident, but... doesn't feel like a mistake."
Softly, she answered. "I don't think it was a mistake, either."
"Good. I'm glad." And another silence fell over them, this one warm but tight, waiting to be broken. When he finally did break it, she wasn't surprised. "If we planned it in advance it wouldn't be an accident either, would it. I mean... hypothetically."
"No it wouldn't," she answered instantly, and blushed. "Hypothetically that is."
"So, like, say... if we were ever to feel like- maybe doing it again... just, ya know, if we ever did... and we gave ourselves time to think about it and maybe back out, then- that would be different, right?"
She thought about this argument and couldn't see any holes in the logic. "Totally different," she agreed, holding his hand more tightly.
"And friends can do that kind of thing... if they want to, right?" He wasn't looking at her.
"If they want to- sure! Friends can do anything they want, as long as they're sure they want to."
He nodded. "Well- um, hypothetically, when would you think a good time to plan in advance for would be? Like... a week later, or a few nights, or-"
"Tonight," she interrupted. He turned to look at her in surprise. "Tonight, by the river. When the night is darkest."
"Right." He nodded.
She let go of his hand, smiled at him, and stood to go find Xena on her walk.
Alone, Joxer whistled his song to himself, and threw some more wood on the fire. He didn't think he'd be sleeping tonight.
Continue on to the sequel Heat of the Night