Title: Coming Home
Author: Annie B.
Email: goddess_torment@yahoo.com
Fandom: Xena: Warrior Princess
Rating: I'd say PG-13. There's a little violence but nothing that isn't shown on the show itself.
Disclaimers: The characters all belong to RenPics and don't belong to me. <sniff sniff>
Warnings: This is a very Joxer friendly story. So Joxerphobes -- BEWARE!! <bg>
Hmmm.... I know I'm missing stuff here <shrugs> Oh well! I guess I'll figure it out later! <bg>
Oh yeah! If anyone wants to archive this story, feel free to do so, all I ask is that you send me an E-Mail letting me know where it is located. Thanks!
And now... enough with the endless babble.. on with the story!!

Lyrics for Coming Home by Stratovarious can be found here.

Joxer ran his hand over his chin and felt the stubble of a few days growth. // Gonna have to shave that off before I get home // he thought to himself. He had found a job that paid well but was out of town and he looked forward to seeing his wife and daughter again. He smiled as he thought of his beloved's shoulder length blonde hair and beautiful smile. Chuckling to himself, he thought of his daughter's wonderful zest for life and her seemingly endless energy and curiosity.

He was trying to get back by tomorrow, which was Solstice. He had thought about his return and planned it in his head how it was going to go. He would walk in the door and sneak up on Gabrielle, grabbing her from behind and kissing her neck. He would put a necklace on her he had bought, she would turn and they would kiss until little Xena ran in and interrupted them. He had a special gift for his daughter too, some specially made wooden dolls.

His face grew sad as he thought of his daughter's namesake. She had died a hero's death at the hands of Ares. The God of War had gathered ten of his best warriors to destroy her. He and Gabrielle had tried to help her, but it was no use. The warlords had attacked as one and the great warrior princess had no chance. She fought valiantly but in the end the warriors had ripped her apart. Gabrielle had tried to go after the War God himself, but he laughed in her face as he disappeared before she reached him. That had been over seven years ago now. They stayed together after that and grew closer, at first as friends, then lovers and finally taking vows in Aphrodite's temple. The goddess herself even showed up and bestowed a blessing upon the happy couple. A year after that Gabrielle had given birth to a little girl with lots of dark hair who they had decided to name after their best friend and the greatest warrior they had ever known.

"I'm coming home, Gabrielle." He whispered to the wind and thought of happier times. "Soon I'll see the familiar door before my eyes… and you."

He looked up the road before him and narrowed his eyes as he saw three men walking toward him with swords drawn. He was thankful for the teaching Gabrielle had given him through the years and for the lightweight leather armor she had given him for his birthday a few years ago. He knew he could fight these men with very little problem, but he still hated to fight. After Xena's death both he and Gabrielle had tried to avoid fighting whenever possible. He tried to ignore the men and walk past but they stopped in front of him and grinned sadistically.

"Excuse me." Joxer said as he tried to step around them.

"You didn't say please!" one of the men teased as he stepped in front of Joxer waving his sword under his nose. Joxer sighed and tried again to step around the man. Laughing the man shoved him back.

"Please, just let me pass. It's Solstice and I only want to go home to my family. I don't want to fight you." Joxer said quietly with his hand held loosely near his sword.

The men looked at the tall skinny man and roared with laughter. One of them came toward Joxer and raised his sword threateningly.

"Give us your money and maybe you'll be lucky enough to live!" the man snarled.

Joxer shook his head sadly and silently apologized to Gabrielle as he drew his sword and disarmed the man in one swift move. The men behind him ran to help and raised their swords to attack. Joxer disarmed them all and kicked the swords away. Holding his own sword level at the throat of the biggest man, he spoke in a firm even voice.

"Give me the money you have stolen or his throat gets ripped open."

The men threw a pouch of coins towards him and turned, running away and threatening revenge. Joxer shook his head and sighed again as he put his sword away and picked up the bag of dinars. "I hate to do that. Well, at least the Poteidiea Orphanage will benefit from this."

"Still the do-gooder I see." A voice said from behind. Joxer spun around and saw one of his brothers smiling at him.

"Jett?" Joxer asked his dark-haired, leather-clad twin.

"Wrong brother dear! Don't you recognize the other black sheep of the family?" the man asked.

"Jace! What's with the leather? I thought you hated leather." Joxer asked.

"It's a left-over from my time in the military." Jace replied.

"You were in the army?" Joxer asked skeptically.

"Of course! They were looking for a few good men…. And so was I!" Jace grinned.

"Didn't think you'd change!" Joxer laughed. "So how is the dance school going?"

"Oh, Widow Twanky is looking after the school while I'm off to get some more … ahem… supplies." Jace replied with a wink.

"I don't even want to know." Joxer replied with a disgusted look.

"Aww relax little brother! I'm not looking for that type of supplies. Besides… that Widow Twanky is an incredible person! There is more to Twanky than meets the eye!" Jace grinned.

"I'll bet! Look, I'm going home to Poteidiea. You're welcome to join us if you want for the Solstice. You can meet Gabrielle and Xena."

"I thought Xena was dead?" Jace asked confused.

"She is. Gabrielle and I named our daughter after her." Joxer explained.

"Wow! Time does go fast! Last time we met was in that musical competition and now look at you, a good fighter, a father, and married to the woman of your dreams. You've come a long way, Joxer. Mother would have been proud and Father would have loved to have seen you fight those brutes, although I think he would have frowned on your comment about the orphanage." Jace grinned. "I would love to meet Gabrielle again and to see my little niece. Tell me, does Xena take after her namesake?"

Joxer laughed, "No, no! She's more like I was when I was younger. I wish Xena could have met her though, I think she would've really liked her. Come on! We could get there before dark if we hurry!"

The two brothers talked about their younger years and caught up with family news as they walked along.

Joxer began walking quicker as they neared his home.

"She must be something pretty special." Jace remarked as he walked faster to keep up with Joxer.

"Jace, I'd climb the highest mountain and cross any ocean just to see her smile again! She is every dream come true!" Joxer gushed as they reached the outskirts of Gabrielle's home village.

Joxer looked around and saw several of the homes charred and smoking, some were still burning. Joxer ran through the war-torn area and saw friends and neighbours dead or dying in the streets.

"Gabrielle! Gabrielle!!" Joxer cried as he ran towards his own home. He was partially relieved to see it still standing with very little damage and ran through the doorway looking frantically for his family. He saw someone lying unmoving in a corner and recognized his wife.

"Gabrielle!" Joxer ran to her and gently rolled her onto her back. "Oh Gabby!" he whispered.

Jace appeared in the doorway and ran to his brother's side. He put his fingers on her throat and pressed gently. He bent close to her face and turned his head so that his ear was near her mouth. After a few moments, he put his mouth over hers and breathed into her. Joxer watched as he repeated this several times and then put his ear next to her mouth again.

"She'll be okay. She's still alive." Jace said as he found a blanket and covered Gabrielle.

"How do you know? What did you do?" Joxer asked as he gently stroked his beloved's face.

"The Widow Twanky taught me. She was telling me about her fifth husband and how she saved his life with a kiss." Jace answered.

"Oh… well, thanks." Joxer said. "Can you stay here with her? I need to find Xena."

"Don't worry, I'll protect her!" Jace replied and waved as Joxer ran out the door. "After all, I'm a warlord's son too."

Jace walked over to a large mirror and admired himself. Turning around so he could admire his butt, he smiled. "Very nice, if I do say so myself!"

Jace yawned and looking around, saw a small pile of clothes and furs. He walked over and was about to sit down when the pile moved. The effeminate man leaped to his feet with a yelp of fright.

"Wh… who's there?" Jace asked timidly, grabbing a broken chair leg and holding it out in front of him.

The pile moved more and a small face looked out and squealed with delight when it saw Jace.

"Daddy!!" the small person squealed and leaped at the frightened Jace.

"AAAGGGGHHHHH!!!! A child! Get away from me! I don't want you to drool, or spit up, or pee on me! Ugh! Why do people have these creatures?" Jace said and shooed the confused child away.

"Daddy?" The girl asked uncertainly.

"Ah, you must be Xena, right? I'm your daddy's brother, Jace." He replied.

"Oh, you're the queer one right?" Xena asked.

"Yes, I guess you could say that." Jace said, smiling.

Xena saw her mother lying on the floor. "What happened to my mom? Is she okay?"

Jace put his arm around the little girl and gave her a little hug. "Your mom is going to be fine. She's just taking a little nap right now."

Xena nodded, accepting his explanation for now. Jace took a closer look at her.

"I see you've got your dad's hair… ugh, and his bad taste in clothes as well! Why don't you let your uncle Jace dress you up all pretty?"

"You want to play dress-up? With me? Really? Can we put on make-up too?" Xena asked eagerly.

Jace laughed, "Of course! I'll make you so pretty that even your daddy won't recognize you!"

Joxer ran through the village calling for his daughter and helping survivors where possible. He was out of breath and desperate when he returned to his home. He stopped outside the door when he heard giggling coming from within. Bursting through the door, he stopped in amazement as he saw his daughter in a beautiful dress with make-up on her small chubby cheeks and Gabrielle was sitting against a wall.

"Gabrielle! Xena! Oh thank the gods you're both safe!" Joxer cried as he ran to his family and hugged them hard.

"Daddy!" Xena squealed and then gasped as Joxer squeezed her against his chest. "Daddy, I can't breathe!"

"I am so happy that you are safe! What happened?" Joxer asked Gabrielle.

"A warlord thought Poteidiea would be easy to take over. We decided that we could fight him. We won, barely." She answered.

"Are you okay?" Joxer asked concerned.

"Other than a few bruises and a really bad head-ache, I'm fine. I had Xena hide in the laundry until either you or I were here. As you can see, Jace has been keeping her busy and entertaining me until you came back." She answered, smiling.

Joxer turned to Jace and glared at his brother.

"You KNEW Xena was here and you didn't call me? I have been going out of my mind with worry and you had her HERE all this time?" Joxer fumed.

"You had already left and yelling is not good for my voice! Besides, it gave me a chance to know my wonderful niece. Xena, why don't you show your daddy what I taught you?" Jace said.

Xena, now dressed in a pretty pink dress with a red feather boa around her shoulders, strutted to the center of the room and started to dance and sing:

"Da minute ya walked in da joint *Shakes shoulders*
I could see ya was a man of da stinky *Holds nose*
A real big spender!
Good lookin', so real fine! *walks behind Joxer and pinches his butt*

"Woah!" Joxer said as he jumped in surprise.

Gabrielle covered her mouth with her hand, giggling as Joxer glared at an innocent looking Jace.

Say wouldn't ya like ta know
What's goin' on in ma mind? *Xena wiggles her eyebrows like her dad*
So lemme get straight to da point *points a finger at her dad*
I don't pop ma cork for ev'ry guy ah see *Puts her hands on her hips and shakes them a little*
Hey big spender, spend a little time with me!
Say wouldn't ya like to have fun, fun, fun? *Wiggles her shoulder every time she sings 'fun'*
How's about a few laughs, laughs? *grins*
I could show ya a good time! * Puts her hands on her hips shakes her hips twice*
Lemme show ya a good time! *Repeats her hip shakes*

"Alright, I think that's enough!" Joxer interrupts as he grabbed his daughter's shoulders, stopping her dance.

"Wasn't I good Daddy? Uncle Jace taught me. He taught me another song too, wanna hear? It's called 'I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No'." Xena said happily.

"You were very nice, dear. Why don't you go play while I talk to your uncle Jace for a minute? Which reminds me," Joxer grabbed his pack and pulled out the wooden dolls, "these are for you. Happy Solstice!"

Xena threw her arms around his neck and ran off to play with her new toys. Joxer turned and glared at his brother.

"Jace! How dare you teach a four year old child that song!" Joxer fumed.

"I said it was okay! She was worried about you and was bored." Gabrielle said.

"Gabrielle, I'm sorry. I was just so worried and scared and… Oh, I almost forgot! I got you something as well. I hope you like it." Joxer said as he pulled out a small piece of cloth and handed it to her.

Gabrielle unwrapped the cloth and gasped as she saw a small heart-shaped pendant on a long golden chain.

"Joxer! How did you…? How could you afford…?" Looking up into his face, she simply smiled and kissed him. "Thank-you, darling! Welcome home!"

Jace pulls out a hanky and, sighing dramatically, dabs the corners of his eyes, "I just LOVE happy endings!"