Author: Xebbie
Story Title: My Favourite Mistake
Characters: Gabrielle & Joxer
Rating: NC-17
Summary: Frustrated with Joxer's seeming lack of backbone, Gabrielle pushes him a little too far. Sorely regretting the fight, Gabrielle welcomes Joxer back with more than open arms. But what happens when they wake up the morning after? Third in the Pillow Talk series.
This rating is for explicit m/f sexual situations.

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.

This is the third story in the Pillow Talk series, following Pillow Talk and The Look of Love. While The Look of Love was without a doubt the inspirational piece behind this entire twisted body of work, these following stories are actually unrelated to either of the ones above. They're more of a spin-off, and some events are similar, but after the first few stories in the series they diverge in terms of "canon". Just think of it like an idea, fleshed out. ^_^ (Or more smut for your money, you could see it that way too...)

You can also find Xebbie's stories at The GJerotica Archives and Xebbie's Adult Fics

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My Favourite Mistake
by Xebbie
© 06/99 by Xebbie

If you'd accept surrender, give up some more
Weren't you adored
I cannot be without you, matter of fact
Whoa-oh.... I'm on your back
I'm on your back

If you walk out on me, I'm walking after you
If you walk out on me, I'm walking after you...

--The Foo Fighters, "Walking After You"

Why did it have to be Joxer? she wondered grumpily, trudging along the path as he followed along behind her, his armour creaking with every step. Did he ever oil that piecemeal monstrosity??

She was thankful for the company, since Xena had had to ride ahead in order to keep a meeting with the ruler of a nearby village. Gabrielle never liked walking alone, so having someone along for the hike was not the problem.

It was just... Joxer! She tried desperately to put herself in another mindset, to find some way to tolerate him and enjoy his company, but it was no use. It seemed like everything he said and did was calculated to drive her crazy, and she was having a hard time covering for it at this point.

What was it about him that set her so on edge? Certainly she'd known other, more foolish people, without even his positive attributes... She felt sympathy for them and managed to find their better side, usually becoming friends with them eventually. Gabrielle had always prided herself on her ability to accept almost anyone, to always find the good.

So what was it about Joxer that made the good so hard to find? It wasn't that she liked the big goof; she was actually very fond of him, and smiled at the thought of him when he wasn't around. Things that he said stuck with her sometimes, and she would often laugh and repeat them to Xena when they were travelling together.

But somehow, when he was actually there, it all went to Tartarus. She turned and looked at him as he lingered behind her, stooping to pick up a stick from the path and toss it into the brush; Gods how she hated that armour. Especially the helmet. Sometimes she just wanted to tear it all off of him, throw the helmet into a pond or something, and make sure he never, ever wore it again.

Although, she reconsidered in a moment of thought, he just wouldn't be Joxer without the armour... or the helmet.

He caught up with her, and lifted his head to look her in the face, his eyes dark velvet pools framed by the black of his eyelashes. It was quite striking actually. "Gabby?" he said, bringing her thoughts to a crashing halt. "You okay? You've been kinda quiet for a while."

She shook herself, her temper flaring inexplicably. "I'm fine, Joxer," she said shortly, turning and resuming her stride down the path. "We should camp soon, it's getting late."

What in the world was it about him, anyway?


Dinner passed mostly without event, with Gabrielle describing Xena's latest adventures to a raptly-attentive Joxer. Even this irritated her, the way he was always watching her, scrutinizing her. It made her feel odd, uncomfortable, and she soon cut the recounting short and ended the story prematurely. "I'm gonna set up for bed," she said, and took out her bedroll and began unfolding it. She glanced at him; he was sitting on a log opposite her, still fully armoured, twirling a stalk from some plant between his fingers. "You can at least take that helmet off," she said, much more sharply than she'd intended to.

He looked up, surprised. "But I gotta be ready to protect you if someone attacks us," he said plainly, as if that should be obvious.

Spreading the bedroll across the grass, Gabrielle's temper got the better of her this time. "Oh come on, Joxer, if anyone does come you won't be doing much of the fighting. In fact you're more likely to sleep through it."

She bit her tongue as it finished betraying her. That was harsh, she thought, and looked to him. Guilt washed over her as he stared at her for a moment, hurt evident in his eyes even in the dim firelight, and then looked down at his feet and resumed twirling the plant. She blinked. He was just going to let it go?? Wasn't he even going to stand up for himself???

"Gods, Joxer, what is the matter with you?!" she demanded, not angry so much as deliberately provoking him for a reaction. This once, she deserved to be challenged- why wouldn't he? "Don't you have any self-respect!??"

His head snapped up, and she braced herself for the backlash that was sure to come. Instead he looked at her again for a few moments, not speaking, and finally stood up silently and picked up his pack. Still without a word, he began walking deliberately out of their camp.

"Joxer?" She was stunned- this, she had not expected. Joxer had always taken anyone's abuse without incident, and she'd only wanted him to finally stand up for himself.... Not to leave. "Joxer, where are you going?" He didn't answer, nor did he even turn around. Confused, she dashed after him.

"Joxer," she panted as she caught up with him, "where are you going?"

"I don't know," he answered quietly, staring straight ahead. She could barely see his expression in the dimness of the forest, although some moonlight reflected off the metal of his helmet.

She caught his arm. "Don't go. I didn't mean that as it sounded, okay? Come on back."


She grew frustrated. "Don't be a baby, Joxer, I said I was-"

He did stop now, and turned to her, and she could see light reflecting off the dark pools of his eyes. "Stop it. I'm not as dumb as you think I am, and I can tell when you don't want me around." He bowed his head for a moment, then looked back up at her. "I'll leave you alone now. You won't ever have to put up with me again. Goodbye, Gabrielle." Her hand slid away from his arm as he began walking again, leaving her behind.

She stood in silence as the creaking of his armour became more distant, and finally anger exploded in her. "Go then!" she yelled after him, and stalked off back to their camp.

Completely unable to sleep now, she tore through her belongings until she found an unfinished scroll and then sat cross-legged, quill at the ready, trying to find the right words to put to the parchment. Nothing came, only visions of Joxer.

She shook with anger. The big idiot! What did he mean, she didn't want him around?! Since when was he the one who decided how she felt?? "Joxer, you... you dummy!" she muttered. "Who says I don't want you??" This was all his fault anyway- if he'd stand up for himself around her once in a while she probably wouldn't insult him as much as she did, and...

She did insult him a lot, didn't she? The anger began to fade, and the pain underneath took her so by surprise that she compensated for it, calling up a fury against him she didn't know she had. "IDIOT!" she screamed, and threw her bag of scrolls out of the campsite. It didn't help, so she threw the remnants of her meal against a tree, then looked around for something else to throw. There was nothing in sight, so she desperately stooped and pulled off both her boots, then hurled them at the nearby trees.

Then she burst into tears.

Sinking to her knees, she sobbed, rocking herself gently. What would she tell Xena? How would she deal with never seeing him again? He couldn't really stay away... could he? But he could.... If she knew someone who said nasty things to her every chance she got, she'd stay as far away from that person as possible. She'd never see him again, never hear his voice, his stupid, stupid song... Never see his happy grin, or his idiotic, wonderful armour. She sobbed louder, burying her face in her hands, her control breaking completely.

The arms around her shoulders took her by surprise, but she barely reacted as she was drawn into an embrace. "Gabby," he said, quietly. "Don't, please, I'm sorry."

"Joxer..." she rasped, her breath hitching. She broke into fresh sobs and pressed her tear-stained face against his neck.

"Don't cry, Gabrielle, please," he murmured, his voice sounding lost. "Is this... is this about me?"

"Of c-course it's ab-bout you, st-stupid!" she half-wailed, then pulled him closer. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry- I d-didn't mean that... please don't leave..." Joxer wasn't sure what to do. After hearing her yelling, he'd instinctively run back to her, and found her in this state. The thought that it could be over him stunned him to a point where he was beyond logical thought. She'd spent the entire day snarking at him, but when he left, she fell apart? It made no sense, but... He pulled back from her gently, and she clung to him.

"No, don't go!" she cried desperately.

He took her hands gently. "I'm not going anywhere. It's okay." Disengaging himself from her, he quickly unbuckled his armour and dropped it away from them, then pulled her close again. She sniffled, and huddled up against him again, obviously more comfortable. Running his hand over her hair, he murmured, "I'm not leaving, Gabby. I'm sorry."

She cried softly against his tunic, and he could feel the liquid seeping through the fabric and leaving a damp spot upon his chest. Eventually she sniffled, and whispered, "I'm sorry for ev-everything I said... I want you to- to stay..."

"I'm staying," he said comfortingly.

With a shuddering sigh, she nodded. "Good." Her eyes felt puffy and heavy, her head hurt a little, but she wouldn't let go of him. His breathing was slow and steady, and she spent a few moments just listening to it, feeling his chest expand and contract... It was all so relaxing, so nice, so amazingly right to be held by Joxer. She placed her cheek lazily against his shoulder, surprised by how soft and smooth his skin was... And he smelled nice, masculine but quite clean. What do you know, she thought mildly, he really is tidy.

He kept his arms around her, expecting her to fall asleep any moment despite her strong grip around his waist. Closing his eyes, he pretended for a moment that the argument hadn't happened, that he wasn't comforting her but just enjoying her embrace. Opening his eyes again, he gave a long sigh, and she looked up at him.

"What's the matter?" she asked huskily, her voice far back in her throat after her emotional outpour. Her face was puffy. Her eyes were red.

She looked amazing. Joxer smiled softly. "Nothing. You okay now?"

Nodding quietly, she sniffled and laid her head back on his shoulder. "I'm so s-sorry, Joxer... I was so thoughtless."

"No," he said. He'd forgiven her the moment he'd found her crying.

"I was," she said stubbornly. "I like you, Joxer... I c-care about you." She raised her head and kissed him on his cheek, her lips lingering for a moment. "I don't know why I act the way I do. You should y-yell at me more often." She chuckled.

"I could never yell at you," Joxer said quietly, his cheek still tingling where she'd kissed it. Maybe I SHOULD yell at her more often, he thought half-seriously, if it means moments like this. "I didn't have any right to react the way I did."

Pulling her head up to look at him again, she said, "But I wanted you to. You need to stand up for yourself, not just let me say all those horrible things. You're an incredible person, Joxer, and you should know that you deserve credit for that."

He stared back into her eyes, as they glistened in the waning light of the fire. Suddenly, he found he was quite incapable of movement; her face, her lips, were agonizingly close to his own. He swallowed, his mouth and throat dry. "I'm not... so great," he muttered.

"You are." Gabrielle sniffled one more time, but her eyes remained dry. "You're wonderful..." She closed the distance between them, pressing her lips to his, hesitantly at first and then more deliberately.

Joxer froze. He hadn't expected this. For a few moments, Gabrielle kissed him and he simply sat there, looking dazed; was this some kind of test? A spell? A mistake? His mind raced desperately, trying to figure this out.

He wasn't kissing her back. Gabrielle's face flushed hotly, and she ended it, a lump forming in her throat. That was stupid, Gabrielle, she thought as she began to pull away from him.

He felt her break the kiss off, and begin to pull back. Without thought he reached for her and pulled her close, then enveloped her in a kiss of his own, his heart racing madly as she threw her arms around his neck and deepened it before he even realized what he was doing.

For several long moments they sat, arms firmly twined around one another, lips meeting again and again in warm caresses... Joxer relished the contact with her, memorizing the texture and feel of her lips, varying the length and manner of his kisses, experiencing her as many ways as he could.

Gabrielle, for her part, simply wouldn't let him stop. She was almost delirious with need for him, amazed by the tender, soft beauty of each kiss. Oh, she'd never been kissed like this, so intently, skillfully; each touch of his lips left her wanting more.

Holding her face delicately in his hands, he deftly parted her lips with his tongue, running it along the inside of her lower lip, tasting her mouth fully for the first time. His heart leaped in his chest as he felt the softness of her tongue, probing, meeting his, encircling it... Shaking, he drew her still closer, almost onto his lap. She took it the extra distance, climbing into his lap herself. "Mmmf Gabby-" He pulled away, letting go of her. She looked at him, puzzled. "Gabby, this uh... might not be such a, a good idea..." Maybe, he hoped desperately, she wouldn't notice. She was practically sitting on it, but that didn't mean she was going to notice...

At first Gabrielle thought he was refusing her, but the feel of the bulge beneath her leg, radiating heat, told her the real story. He was aroused, and was trying to be noble before things got out of hand. She smiled, blushing at this knowledge... What a dear. Here she was throwing herself at him, and he was worried of taking advantage of her... Not a reaction she'd have expected from someone in this situation. "Joxer... It's okay," she whispered, and took his hands. He was trembling, looking at her with barely-restrained need. "Let me show you how much I care for you," she murmured, and kissed his fingertips, then guided his hands to her breasts.

He let out a shuddering breath at the contact; even through the rough fabric of her top, they felt incredible- so round, so soft, was this really happening?? He squeezed- they felt real. She interrupted his tactile explorations, loosening the lacings of her top until she was able to pull it off. His gaze locked and stayed there as he froze again.

Smiling tenderly, Gabrielle leaned down to him and kissed him softly, her naked breasts brushing against his hand, the skin even softer than he'd dreamed. When he again looked into her eyes, his gaze stayed there, enthralled by the sheer beauty in her face even as he raised his hand and cupped her breast gently.

She let her breath out in a hiss- it had been so long since she'd been touched like this! Even if he was an amateur, Joxer was certainly as good as Perdicus- their wedding night had been brief, somewhat clumsy, but heartfelt and deeply erotic through their love for each other.

Joxer was quickly reaching that point of erotica.

She wanted him- badly. How far could she take this? Was she really going to... with Joxer? Somehow the thought was not at all strange, as she'd expected it to be. No, she thought as he flicked his thumb against her nipples, working them into taut nubs, not the least bit strange. She trusted him, she cared for him- Gods, she even loved him, a little... Maybe not a wild romantic love, but a comfortable friendly love, a love that could accept his hot, soft kisses against her neck, her jawbone, her earlobe...

She sighed and worked at the ties of his tunic, widening the neck until he was able to pull it over his head and discard it. She shivered in the night air, chilled, and pressed her body to his for warmth- Joxer reacted with astounding quickness, clasping her body to his, claiming her mouth, running his hand down her back and over her bottom. She shuddered in his embrace and wound her arms around him as tightly as she could, weaving her arms over the skin of his back- so amazingly supple, radiating heat- mmmmm, she felt incredible...

Amazing; she hadn't dreamed that he would be this aroused just from this level of intimacy- she'd thought she was the one with the growing need, but he was clinging to her as though she were the only woman in the world, as though she were his lifeline. She felt heady with power- she had made him feel this way, had driven him to this state of desire... She was in control here, and she felt wonderful at the thought of giving so much to Joxer, of making him happy and satisfying him all night long...

The cold rushed against her body again as Joxer suddenly backed away. "Wha-" she began, but her question was quickly answered as he kissed her neck, her collarbone, her shoulders, every bit of her exposed flesh. She couldn't hold back her pleasure, breathing an extended sigh as his fevered kisses traveled all over her body- down to her stomach, past her navel, then back up- he reached her breasts and her breath caught as he kissed first one, then the other, then licked slow circles around her erect nipples. "J-Joxer..." she moaned shakily, clutching at his head as his tongue traveled warmly over her flesh. "Oh Joxer, keep doing that, it's- oh yes it's amazing..."

He heard her, and closed his mouth over a nipple, sucking gently. She yelped lightly and voiced her pleasure, increasing his arousal that much more- oh, she was perfect, everything he'd dreamt of... Her flesh, filling his mouth, smelled faintly of lilacs, tasted lightly of cream- she was his goddess, his perfection, and she was calling his name... Oh, gods, he must have done something really good to deserve this... He switched to her other nipple as she pressed his face against her bosom, moaning his name faintly; sweat ran down his temple to his neck as his heart hammered in his chest. This was good- this was too good...

His hands shaking, he ran them the length of her thighs, marvelling at their firmness- reached her buttocks, caressed her, then slipped his hand beneath her skirt and gently stroked the base of her panties, then pressed more firmly through the damp fabric against her clitoris. She moaned again, much more loudly this time, and her hips bucked against his hand. His erection strained uncomfortably against his pants.

He was no amateur, Gabrielle realized. Nervous, perhaps, but he knew his way around a woman's body. Her stomach felt queer, tight and fluttery, and only more so when Joxer slid his hand inside her panties and stroked her flesh confidently, parting her folds and stroking the length of her, filling her first with one, then two fingers, massaging her clitoris gently with his thumb.

She couldn't take any more- she grabbed his head and kissed him deeply, forgetting grace and seduction, and he pulled his hand from its business and embraced her fully, the slickness of his hand leaving its mark on her back. Yes, she wanted him- he deserved her- he was wonderful, he was perfect, this was all perfect. "Make love to me Joxer," she whispered hotly in his ear, her blood singing in her veins. "I want you, I want you now."

"...Okay," he answered dumbly, and cursed himself silently. Of all the dumb things to say...! But it seemed good enough for her as she gave him another very wet kiss. He fumbled with his pants as she deftly slipped out of her skirt and panties, her boots having been discarded long ago; remembering his own boots he forgot the pants and yanked them both off. The rest was discarded within seconds, and he looked up again to see a gloriously naked Gabrielle watching him with admiration evident in her eyes.

"Buh," he blurted, stunned by her beauty, her curves, her soft damp skin... This was a sight to blind a man. Never had there been so amazing a woman as Gabrielle, his bard- his bard, by the Gods, she was his tonight.

She stared, just as he had at her, and the look of wonder on her face made him blush. "Joxer, you're... beautiful," she whispered throatily, almost shyly. It was an astounding transformation, and now she knew why she hated that armour so much. She'd always thought he was skinny, bony, and out of shape- but he was nothing of the sort. Slender, yes- long, lanky, certainly.... He was no Hercules, but that wouldn't suit him. No, he was toned, beautifully formed, his ivory skin smooth and- oddly- mostly hairless. He was... regal. Gabrielle was amazed.

Joxer smiled bashfully, lowered his eyes, and laughed a little. "You're incredible," he returned, his voice low and reverent. Those breasts, those hips... That lithe little waist... Oh, those thighs- he reached for her, pulled her close, and she came so willingly that she almost literally leaped into his arms. They embraced for a moment, before she pulled him down to the ground, on top of her, and kissed him.

He lost himself, forgetting his fantasies of spending hours making love to her slowly, abandoning the idea of teasing her until she couldn't take any more- Oh, it was too late for that, she had wrapped her legs around him and her fingers were digging into his shoulders as he buried himself within her and it was amazing- no other woman had ever been like this- already he was nearing his climax, and he forced himself to take a few deep breaths and distance himself a little.

Her muscles tightened around his length, rhythmically, as he pushed into her again and again, and she thrust her hips up to meet his; this had to be a dream, it must have been a dream, just like all the others because she would never- but she was, she did- She was really writhing in ecstasy beneath him, really pressing her hands to his sweat-streaked back, he was really jamming his manhood inside her, holding tightly to her hips as they bucked against his, grunting so slightly at the effort- the wonderful effort...

"Aaaahhhhh, Joxer- Joxer yes, oh Gods yes-" Somehow her passion increased as she said his name, just hearing it spoken bringing her to higher heights... 'Don't you ever leave, Joxer,' she tried to say, but sentences were beyond her and she had to settle for a breathless "Duh, don' ohhhhhh.... don' go....

"No- I won't- Gab-rielle-" he answered in panted bursts, followed by a low moan in the back of his throat. He propped himself up on his arms, hovering above her, bending occasionally to brush her face and lips with kisses.

It was fast, it was uncontrollable, it was incredible. Her breath came in gasps and she cried out incoherently, the tightness in her stomach now ready to burst, as he kissed her and loved her and- oh- Gods... She felt it coming, quickly, and her body tensed as she emitted a sound more like a squeak than a moan. "Juhhh... Joxerrrr... Oh, JOXERRRRR!" she yelled, her breath quite taken away as the richest orgasm she'd ever had overtook her completely.

Oh, it was beautiful. He watched her face, the ecstasy painted in every grimace, every flutter of her eyelashes... He watched her climax build, then wash over her, the contractions within her setting off small explosions in him, and his heart nearly burst as she called his name, shouted it to the stars. He kissed her, then, as her orgasm faded, and she returned it tiredly but wholeheartedly. He pulled back and looked into her eyes, her gaze soft and happy, and in the midst of it all he felt a moment of sudden peace and clarity. She searched his face, something new in her expression, something tender. "I love you, Gabrielle," he whispered, the words out before he knew he was going to say them, and her eyes lit up-

And suddenly, almost violently, his orgasm took hold of him, shuddered through him- it was as though admitting his feelings had heightened his experience, because this was big, this was nothing he'd ever felt before. "Ah- AH- aaaaAAAAAGGGGGGODDSSSS GABBYYYYY-" The very sound of her name somehow intensified it, as he remembered who he was with, who he was buried inside, whose body his come was shooting into- his eyes squinched shut as he grabbed her, pulled her as close as he could, and doubled his pace within her. Dimly he heard her gasp and cry out his name again, and his attempts at answering her resulted only in a guttural moan... Damn, this was almost painful, it had never been like this, it-

He fought back the urge to scream her name, as his head was right at her ear, and dug his fingers into her shoulder instead, his head bent so far as to touch the ground, as it ended. All his muscles seemed to give out at once and he collapsed onto her body, breathing heavily, his senses filled with everything about her.

He must have blacked out for a while, because when he came to, she was holding him tenderly against her bosom and stroking his hair back from where it fell in damp strands onto his face. Moving was almost impossible- he was suddenly completely spent- but he forced himself to take some of his weight off of her and look up into her face. He couldn't have been out long, he realized- he was still breathing hard, and it was after a few heavy pants that he managed, "Wow..."

Gabrielle giggled softly, grinning back at him. "Yeah... Wow."

Swallowing, Joxer concentrated on breathing again for a little while longer. When he felt a bit more in-control, he asked, "So... that was... good?"

"Oh Joxer, it was fantastic," she sighed, and felt her heart melt as he gave her an elated, yet somehow still bashful, grin. He was truly adorable, this one.

"Yeah," he said in a small, happy voice. "It's never been like that... that good I mean. Being with you, Gabby, it's like..."

"I know," she murmured, her hand at his cheek. She lifted her head to meet him as he bent to kiss her, a surprisingly chaste kiss after all they'd just shared; his mouth stayed closed, his lips touched hers only lightly, but lingered there as though she were the sweetest delicacy in the world.

His arms were trembling when they parted. "Are you cold?" she asked, realizing then that she felt quite the chill, herself.

Surprisingly, he shook his head. "No- I'm gonna have to move, my arms are about to give out." He grinned sheepishly, and rolled off of her, letting his arms flop at his sides. Exhaustion hit him as he settled next to her, but the cold night air hit him as well. He smiled gratefully as Gabrielle pulled the fur of her bedroll up over them both, tucking him in carefully before settling down herself. "Thanks," he mumbled, losing energy rapidly. "I'd have done it but- I can't move my arms..."

She chuckled in response. "That's okay." She took the opportunity to snuggle up to him, and wrapped his arms around herself as she got comfortable, then placed a tiny kiss on his nose. "You animal," she said quietly.

He gave her a tired smile. "Aw, ya love it, Gabby..."

Realizing now how worn out she was herself, she yawned as she nodded in response. His eyes were drifting shut when she remembered something she'd wanted to say all evening: "Joxer?"


"I'm... I'm sorry for the things I said earlier."

He opened one eye and looked at her as if she were crazy.

"I was just trying to get a rise out of you," she explained, and looked perplexed as he cracked a smile, then started laughing. "What?"

"Heh... I'd say you did that, Gabby..." he said quietly, still laughing.

She laughed briefly, but glared at him as well. "Oh, that was bad," she said sternly.

"Mmm," he mumbled, closing his eyes again, the smile staying on his face.

"Good night, Joxer," she whispered, and kissed him softly.

"Mmm... g'night Gab..." His breathing deepened almost right away, and Gabrielle watched him sleeping for a few moments before sighing and closing her own eyes. I could fall in love with him, she thought drowsily. I could very easily fall in love with him. Something to think about, maybe... later...


Joxer woke up feeling warm... very, very warm, and happy, and sore as hell. He stretched his arm, trying to ignore the fact that it felt like lead, and brushed the body lying next to him. Hm? he thought, stifling a yawn. Blearily he peered at her, and suddenly realized three things all at once: One, he was completely naked; two, Gabrielle was lying next to him, also completely naked; and three, he was going to die.

All the warmth disappeared as his stomach hit his feet. Oh, Gods, I didn't... How could I??? She'll murder me! He slid out of the bedroll as quietly as he could, relieved to note that she didn't stir. It took him a while to hunt down his pants, but once he'd found them he located his boots and tunic much quicker. Maybe, he thought hopefully, she'll wake up madly in love with me and we'll just live happily ever after. He looked at her, sleeping peacefully, and his throat grew tight. Yeah, right. And maybe I'm a Romany chariot racer.

She'd never be his. Not her. This was all a terrible mistake, and now she'd hate him forever. Damn it. Damn him and his stupid lust. Joxer, you idiot, he told himself silently. Why do you always have to think with your HEAD instead of your BRAIN?

He reached for his armour, and froze when it clanked like a gunshot in the morning stillness. Gabrielle stirred, and he held his breath desperately until she rolled over and settled back down. Relaxing, he let out a breath in relief and lifted the armour slowly, strapping it on as quietly as he could. The helmet at least was easy to find, as he'd left it sitting right next to the rest of his armour the night before.

He was just adjusting the chin strap when he turned back to Gabby and found her sitting upright, watching him, her eyes wide. She was clutching the fur around her body frantically. "Joxer..." she breathed nervously, "Did I just dream it or..."

He made his mouth into a tight line, and looked away. "Uh, no. No, it was real," he said in a low voice.

An awkward silence followed, and then they both said, "I'm sorry-" in unison. She fell silent, and he continued- "No, I'm sorry, I... I shoulda stopped myself. That was... it was really..." He put a hand to his head.

"It's my fault," she said quietly. "I threw myself at you- I knew what I was doing."

"No- you were upset, it was the heat of the moment... I shoulda known better than that. I guess you must think I'm pretty sickening."

"No!" she cried earnestly. "No, it was- well, it was a mistake, but not yours. Really. I don't blame you, Joxer. I don't want this to hurt our friendship, okay?"

He gave her a half-smile. "Oh... 'kay. We're still friends?"

"Of course." She smiled, but her eyes were still nervous.

"Okay." He smiled back, knowing it wasn't convincing even though he was genuinely relieved. "But uh... We should probably, y'know, take a little time apart... right?"

She answered without hesitation, "Oh yeah. Yeah, just a little time... to think."

Another awkward silence, and then he turned to go. "Okay, well, see ya I guess-"

"Joxer?" she said in a very small voice, and he turned back to her very quickly. She was looking at him, biting her lip, outright fear in her eyes. "Last night-"

His heartbeat tripled as he realized what she was about to say. Gods, no! Why did I say it?!

"-uh, you said... you said you, um, loved... me. Was that... I mean... did you, uh, mean...?"

"Oh no," he said breathlessly, hoping she couldn't tell how terrified he was. "Naw, that was just what we call 'pillow talk'. Y'know. Heat of the moment stuff."

"Oh." She looked down, giving a little mini-sigh- of relief?- and quirking her mouth into an odd smile. "Okay. That's good." His heart sank, but he didn't let it show as she looked back up at him. "I just thought we should... clear the air on that one. Just so we didn't have to worry about that I mean. Right?"

He nodded vigorously. "Oh, right, definitely. Yeah." He tried to swallow, and couldn't due to the lack of moisture in his throat. "Ah- yeah. Anyway I gotta go-"

"You'll come back though, right?" she asked, a fear in her voice that was a small reminder of her breakdown the night before.

Looking at her, he saw an image of her face as she climaxed, the beauty of her release etched into her features. He looked away awkwardly. "'Course I'll be back," he said warmly, and he meant it. "I'll catch up with you and Xena in a couple of weeks or... somethin'."

"Good..." She cleared her throat. "I'd... I'd miss you if you stayed away."

"Yeah?" It was the first thing she'd said that drew a real smile from him, and he directed it at her for a moment before looking at the ground again. "I'd miss you too," he mumbled, then cleared his own throat. "Anyway- I really gotta go now, so uh... See ya, Gabby." He gave her a tight grin and a casual point, the breeziest thing he could think of to do.

She returned with a hesitant smile, and waved. "Bye, Joxer..."

And he walked away. He wanted desperately to look back over his shoulder, just once, to catch one last glimpse of her before she was out of sight completely...

But he didn't.

Continue on to the sequel Accidents Will Happen

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