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In The Sight Of Vengeance
Gabrielle leaned back against the mighty oak and closed her eyes.
"What are you thinking about?"
"Hmm." She looked down at Iolaus, who had his head in her lap. Almost absent mindedly she ran her fingers through his hair. "I'm trying to picture Hercules and Xena's faces when we tell them."
Iolaus laughed. "No need I've already done that, and if we're lucky Xena won't kill me."
"Iolaus! She's not going to kill you." Gabrielle giggled. "I mean, people get married every day, what's going to be so different about us?"
He sat up and looked into her eyes. "Hopefully nothing." He ran a hand along her cheek before pulling her in for the kiss.
A cough abruptly brought the pair back into reality.
"It looks like we've...interrupted something." Hercules' voice came from behind them, clearly laced with amusement. They both shot up on to their feet and faced their best friends.
"How was your trip?" Gabrielle asked.
"More like a wild goose chase." Xena raised an eyebrow. "How was your vacation?"
Iolaus shrugged. "Oh you know, pretty quiet. A little fishing, a little story telling, the occasional threats on your life by the god of war...nothing too out of the norm."
"That has to be an interesting story."
"Nah, just the same old stuff."
"Iolaus and I are...getting married." Gabrielle couldn't wait any longer and completely took their friends by surprise.
"What?!" They both asked at the same time.
"Getting married...you know, husband and wife."
They looked at each other. "That's what we thought you said."
Herc and Xena proceeded to walk towards the village.
"So aren't you going to say anything else?" Iolaus called after them.
Hercules turned back to them. "We're surprised that it hasn't happened sooner."
Joxer sat alone on one of the hills above Corinth. He was still trying to pull himself together after hearing the news that Iolaus and Gabrielle were getting married.
Ares appeared in a flash of light. Walking around Joxer, taking in the sight of the pathetic warrior. "I can help you."
"What?" Joxer asked, stunned.
"I can help you win her back. Help her see the real you...the warrior underneath."
Ares dark eyes lit up. "The very best." He stood next to Joxer, and arm draped around his shoulder. "The entire world will tremble at the sound of your name when I'm done with you."
Joxer's eyes seemed to glaze over at the thought of his dream coming true. "Are you sure this will help me get Gabrielle back?"
"Of course, it will! Why do you think she chose Iolaus? He's a brave warrior, afraid of nothing." Ares paused for a moment. "Except you, that is."
Ares didn't have to say anything else, Joxer was willing to give his life over to him for this. "You've got a deal."
Ares smiled. He was going to have his revenge and gods it was going to be sweet.
Gabrielle squealed and turned around in front of the mirror again. "Xena, isn't it great?"
Xena smiled. "It's beautiful."
Gabrielle smoothed out a fold in the soft colored dress. The seamstress smiled and helped Gabrielle out of the wedding dress. "You know I'm really going to have to thank Iphicles for all he's doing."
"Thank Hercules, he was the one who asked him." Xena placed both hands on her hips. "Hercules and I have to finish something in town. We should be back before dark."
"Okay...have fun." Gabrielle tuned back around. Her mind was still reeling over the idea that the very next day she was going to become Iolaus' wife. Her thoughts were distracted when she heard the sound of footsteps coming into the room. "What did you forget, Xena?" She asked turning to face the door. "Joxer! You startled me!"
"I didn't mean to." He tugged at his new black leather vest and looked at her with smouldering eyes. This put Gabrielle on guard. This wasn't the Joxer she knew.
"What do you want?"
"I just wanted to congratulate you, and give you the chance to change your mind. To make the right choice."
"I have made the right choice. I love Iolaus."
"Yes...but what makes you think that he loves you? How do you know that sometime down the road he won't just up and leave you for another woman? Everyone knows he has a wondering eye." He moved closer to her. "I won't leave you...ever."
"NO! It's not like that!" She violently pushed herself away from him. Joxer sighed.
"All right, I tried to give you the easy way out, so now we're going to have to do this the hard way." He moved quickly next to her, grabbing her tightly around the wrists then hoisting her over his shoulders.
"JOXER! Put me DOWN!" Gabrielle screamed, trying to kick him.
"Need a lift?" Ares' deep voice came from the opposite side of the room.
"I thought you would never ask." The war god snapped his fingers and they all vanished.
"How in Tartarus did he just walk in and take her with anyone seeing him?!" Iolaus shouted.
Xena and Hercules sat very calmly, in spite of their own worries, both knowing that they needed to keep Iolaus from doing anything rash.
"Not to mention getting in here without destroying the castle as well. He had some divine help." A soft glow emitted from the far end of the room, filling out Aphrodite's flawless figure. "Ares promised to make him a warrior to help win Gabrielle back. Turns out Ares was up to a little more than just that."
"That's new." Hercules commented dryly.
"Where are they?" Iolaus demanded the goddess.
"An old temple just outside of the city."
Iolaus picked up his sword and stormed out of the room. Hercules and Xena began to follow him, but Aphrodite stopped them.
"This is his fight. He has to do this on his own."
Iolaus moved down the steps into the old temple. He held his sword tightly in his hand. He didn't want to kill Joxer, but if he had hurt Gabrielle in any way - may the gods help him. He turned a corner and found himself in the main room. Gabrielle was chained and gagged to the far wall.
"It's all right. I'm going to get you out of here." He spoke softly to her as he removed the gag.
"Iolaus it's a trap, Joxer is going to kill you!"
Iolaus looked up at her. "If it means saving your life, then I'd gladly give mine."
Joxer took on a sarcastic tone. "Well, that is really touching...do you say that to all the women you sleep with?"
Iolaus broke Gabrielle's chains with his sword and turned to face Joxer.
"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that," he muttered.
"The truth hurts doesn't it." Joxer shot and swung at Iolaus' head. The hunter quickly ducked the blow and lashed out in defense. The fight was fierce. Each man was equally matched blow for blow. Joxer turned his sword around, slicing Iolaus in the side. Iolaus could feel the blood seeping out of his wound, but knew it nothing more than a scrape. He blocked another aggressive blow and kicked Joxer in the stomach. Joxer winced in pain and pulled back before coming back at him.. The force of the attack was so unexpected that it knocked Iolaus to the ground - as well as costing him his sword.
Iolaus looked up into Joxer's crazed eyes. The wound at his side was still bleeding, but not as badly as it had been. His sword lay just out of reach of his finger tips and if he made a move for it now, Joxer wouldn't hesitate in killing him. Closing his eyes, Iolaus prepared for the inevitable.
Gabrielle, who had been watching the fight from a safe distance, flung herself over Iolaus' body. "If you're going to kill him you're going to have to kill me too." She cried, pulling the Hunter closer to her with every breath she took. Joxer stood there stunned for a moment, lowering his defenses.
"What are you waiting for? Finish him!" Ares appeared in a flash of light.
"Ares, you make him do that and you'll regret it the rest of eternity." Aphrodite suddenly appeared next to the dark god, her hands firmly planted on her hips. "We had a deal, remember? They admit they love each other and you leave them alone."
Ares groaned. "No, no, no, no, NO!" He swiftly turned around. "You are not going to do this to me again."
Aphrodite extended a hand out toward Joxer. A blinding flash of pink light threw him against the wall behind him, leaving him with a stupid grin on his face.
"Too late, bro."
Ares, fuming, faced Gabrielle and Iolaus. "This is NOT over!" He disappeared.
Aphrodite sighed and placed both hands back on her hips.
"He's really got some issues." She moved over to the couple sitting on the floor.
"Is he going to be all right?" Gabrielle asked looking over at Joxer, never letting her grip get any looser on Iolaus.
"Yeah, he'll be fine. I've reversed the spell Ares used on him, and he should be back to his old self in a day or so." She smiled at them. "I'll take care of him, you two need to get going or you'll be late for your own wedding!"
Iolaus paced back and forth in the small room, talking to whoever was listening to him, but mostly to himself.
"Iolaus," Hercules placed a hand on his shoulder forcing him to stand in one spot. "you're babbling. Not to mention making me nervous."
"Sorry, Herc." He took a deep breath. "Pre-wedding jitters."
Jason smiled. "Iolaus, the great lover, is finally settling down. Causing women all over the known world to go into mourning."
They all laughed.
"I'm sure Gabrielle is just as nervous as you are." Hercules tried to soothe his friend.
"I'll be fine." He looked out the window again. "I'd be even better if I could see her."
"She actually believes that old wives' tale about the bridegroom not seeing the bride before the wedding?" Jason asked with a raised eyebrow.
"I'd be willing to do anything if it'll bring us good luck." Besides being nervous, he was uncomfortable. He wasn't wearing his own clothes. It wasn't what he was used to. He had traded in his faded purple vest for a rich blue tunic that seemed to match his eyes. The patched pants had given away to new black ones, with boots to match. The only thing that was the same was the dark amulet around his neck. Of course Hercules seemed as uncomfortable as he did, so he didn't feel quite as bad.
The heavy wooden door creaked open and Joxer stumbled inside. Jason and Hercules exchanged looks of agreement. "We'll...um...go check on the ladies." Hercules managed to get out as he and Jason left the room.
"I just wanted to say that I was...sorry for earlier and all." Joxer said once he was left alone with Iolaus. "And if I had to lose Gabrielle to someone, I'd rather it be to you instead of someone else." He twisted his beat up helmet in his hands.
"Jealously can be a dangerous emotion by itself, just ask Cupid, but you had Ares fueling that darker side of you. In a way, I could never really blame you for what you did."
"Does that mean you forgive me?"
"I do, but it's Gabrielle that you're going to have to really ask for forgiveness."
"Already done." His eyes lit up. "By the way, she told me to give this to you." He reached under his breast plate and pulled out a scroll. Taking it from Joxer, Iolaus began to read to himself what Gabrielle had so tentatively wrote.
~Long ago, people had four legs and two heads. Then the gods threw down thunderbolts and split each person in two, leaving each with two legs and one head. But still each half felt incomplete because it had shared it's soul as well. And from then on everyone has been looking for the other half of their soul.~
Iolaus smiled and continued to read the rest of the scroll. ~I guess some stories do come true.~
"What does it say?" Joxer peered over Iolaus' shoulder.
"Nothing." Iolaus rolled the scroll up and slid it into his belt.
"You're going back by the bride's room, right? Give this to Gabrielle." Quickly he removed the heavy stone amulet from around his neck, wrapping the cord tightly around it and placed it in Joxer's hand. With a confused look on his face Joxer stumbled out of the room, nearly knocking Hercules over as he did.
"Everything all right?"
"Yeah, fine." Iolaus let out a heavy sigh.
"Iphicles said everything is ready...if you are."
"Yeah, better get it over with." He laughed.
The palace garden was elaborately decorated for the wedding. Purple and gold banners were hung from the parapet towering high above the garden. White lilies were weaved through out everything casting a ethereal presence. The guests that were mingling about suddenly stopped when Iolaus and Hercules walked out. Iphicles entered from the other side with the priest. Iphicles grabbed Iolaus' hand in a strong handshake and then quickly joined the rest of the guests.
Then Iolaus saw her at the back, half covered by Xena's statuesque figure. As Xena moved to stand next to Hercules, Gabrielle came into full view. In that one moment Iolaus thought his heart had stopped beating in his chest. She was beautiful. She was dressed in a long beige dress embroidered in gold trim. Her hair was curled and pulled through a band of filigreed gold. It was only when Hercules put a hand on his shoulder did Iolaus feel his heart pound against his chest.
The priest began the ceremony as Gabrielle reached her place next to Iolaus, but they didn't seem to hear a word he was saying. They were too engrossed with each other. The only words they did manage to hear was, "You may kiss the bride." And what a kiss it was, long and passionate. The cheers started with Jason and Iphicles, then waved through the crowd.
"I love you." Gabrielle whispered against his lips.
He smiled and kissed her again, before taking her arm and walking off to the large dining hall where the festivities would go on until the early hours of the following morning.
When the majority of the crowd had disappeared behind the happy bride and groom, two blinding flashes of light appeared.
"Well, Ares?" Aphrodite placed her hands on her slender hips.
"Well, what?!" The dark god snarled.
"Aww, you can't still be mad."
Ares just crossed his arms in front of his chest.
"Ares, you're just going to have to face it. Amor Vincit Omnia. Love conquers all. And that seriously trumps anything you could throw at them."
With a huff, Ares went back to his temple to sulk.
"Oh, well...he wasn't much for parties any way." Aphrodite laughed and went to join in on the festivities.