by Joseph Anderson

Revised 8/5/07. This is an old (1998) Joxer-Jett story that I editted and slightly rewrote in spots. I wanted to make it better written.

Xena, Gabrielle, and all characters from the TV show Xena: Warrior Princess are the property or MCA/Universal and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended with this fanfiction which may not be sold, may be copied for personal use only, and must contain all notices of copyright.

This story refers to events in the episodes King Con and King of Assassins. No rough language, no sex, and some violence.

The bard didn't see how the day could get any worse. First Argo stepped on her foot, then when Xena was taking care of some bandits, after being kicked in the stomach by the Warrior Princess one of 'em stumbled up to Gabrielle and threw up on her before collapsing. When she'd finally cleaned that off, she looked up at a singing bird and prepared to comment to Xena about the beauty of its song. However as she opened her mouth the bird gave her a little surprise. Coming into the inn now, tired from walking all day on her sore foot and irritable from insects that had been trying to devour her, Gabrielle couldn't believe what she saw. It was the last straw and she approached the seated man.

"Gods, Joxer! Get a life will ya! Stop following us around!" She knew she'd be sorry later. She made a grab for his nose but he caught her hand. He hadn't said anything. "Oh, wise guy, huh?" the bard fumed and tried to swat him but he caught her other hand.

"Don't do that again," he said.

Gabrielle stood there held a moment, then he released her and she sat down. "Okay, Joxer, I see your point. I shouldn't just hit you. You're right." She made another grab for his nose when she thought he was off guard, but he caught her hand again. She yanked her hand back. "I'll be right back!"

Still seething she went to the innkeeper to order a meal. She heard some men talking. "....six guards dead...used his bare hands...never seen anything like it."

"Maramis, huh? That's a tough place to break out of."

"Well, he's a high priced assassin."

The conversation went on to something else. The bard looked at her hands. Real smooth, Gabrielle, she thought. She returned to the table with her simple meal.

"So, uh, Joxer...I'm sorry...really, REALLY sorry about how I was just acting."

Joxer smiled at her, removed his helmet, and looked at it ironically. He caught the innkeeper's attention who brought him some more wine. "That's all right, Gabrielle. No harm done."

"You usually call me, Gabby," she said without thinking and bit her tongue.

"Oh, yeah, right, RIGHT...Gabby."

She studied him but tried not to be obvious. This was Jett but that was Joxer's armor--there couldn't be two such ridiculous getups around.

He leaned in close to her and whispered, "I wouldn't hurt my brother. I borrowed this clown suit because I heard about something and want to look into it."

"Thank the gods! But where is he?" she whispered back, relieved.

"Visiting Meg...whoever that is. He seemed in a real hurry."

"I'll BET!" Gabrielle said disapprovingly and sat back in her chair.

Jett looked at her in surprise. "Guess, I just put my brother's foot in my mouth."

"I doubt his foot is what Joxer is putting anywhere," the bard said acidly.

Jett winced and changed the subject, dropping his voice to an even quieter whisper. "I hope you don't think it's your job to send me back to Maramis."

Gabrielle didn't hear anything threatening in his voice but there didn't have to be. Jett being who he was filled in the rest. After a moment's hesitation, whispering back, she told him the truth. "I'm going to tell Xena. She'll probably come after you." She thought it was okay to say that. He wouldn't just kill her in the middle of a tavern in front of witnesses...she hoped.

Jett stared at her and got a slight smile. "Don't worry, my brother likes you." Then he looked frustrated. "Who is Xena to put ME in prison?" he whispered angrily, and sarcastically added, "Of course, I kill people one at a time. Killing by the hundreds and thousands like she did is so much more noble!"

"But that was in the past. She's changed," Gabrielle defended her friend uncomfortably, knowing how weak it was.

"That's not how the law works, in case you don't know that, GABBY. She deserves to be in Maramis a hundred times more than I do! Think of that before you try sending me back to that rat hole."

Gabrielle looked down at her plate of food. "You killed six guards."

Jett made an interested grunting sound and said, "Six? Ought to be eight. I'm losing my touch. I should kill you but like I said, my brother likes you." His voice was deeper than Joxer's. Incongruously that's what Gabrielle kept thinking of. She was as close to dying as she'd been since joining Xena.

Jett put that ridiculous helmet on and smiled at her in a way Joxer never could in a million years, stood up and walked out of the inn. A moment later Xena came in and joined Gabrielle. "I just said hello to Joxer but he didn't answer me. Is something bothering him?"

Gabrielle was thinking about what he said. She couldn't lie to Xena, not after what they had been through in the last months, but she sorta wished she could. "It's not Joxer, it's Jett."

The dark woman tensed. "Why do you look that way? What'd he say to you, Gabrielle? Did he threaten you?" Xena asked dangerously.

"No, he didn't threaten me, Xena. We can catch him before he leaves town," the bard said trying to sound enthusiasatic.

Xena eyed her friend and repeated, "What did he say to you, Gabrielle?"

"He just said who are you put him in Maramis?" the smaller woman answered. "What a line, right, Xena?" she added, trying to sound mocking.

The Warrior Princess looked down a moment before speaking. Then she waved the innkeeper over as she said, "How's the food here, Gabrielle?"

"Look at him! I can't believe the idiot came back here!" Titus spoke to his son, Leo. The gray bearded older man wore simple clothes,a far cry from the luxury he used to live in. He'd lost his gambling house and everything else thanks to Joxer. Xena had ruined him for what he'd done to the fool.

"Xena's nowhere around here now!" Leo was excited. If Joxer thought he'd suffered at his hands before it was nothing to what was going to happen now.

Titus growled to his son, "Be ready to grab him when he runs."

The two burly men approached the table and sat down on either side of the idiot. He grunted and opened his eyes wide a moment.

The older man said venomously, "Xena's not here now to save you, fool! I'll make you pay for what she did to me. Don't make a sound or it'll be even worse."

Titus was puzzled. Joxer wasn't acting like he remembered. When he finally spoke it wasn't anything he expected. "I haven't used an axe in quite a while. Know where I can get one around here?"

"What does that mean, idiot?" Titus demanded threateningly. Joxer smiled thinly and made that odd grunting sound as his eyes opened wide again.

Autolycus glimpsed that absurd head gear and swaggered over. "Well, well, well. If it's not Joxer the Mighty," he spoke ironically but not altogether unkindly. "Is Xena here?" The King of Thieves had a job planned and hoped the Warrior Princess wasn't here to stop him.

"You!" Joxer said to him. Autolycus stopped short at the tone and at the expression in his eyes. He put two and two together and prayed to Hermes, God of Thieves, he lived to reach four.

"Um, Jett, nice threads. You and your brother getting into one of those twin things? Cute! I like it! Heh heh heh."

He found himself hustled into an alley and one of those ridiculous short knives Joxer carried was at his throat. Jett smiled. "My brother still has these, eh? You know, I gave him these knives. I suppose he tries to fight with 'em though. He'd be that naive."

Autolycus was sweating as he smiled nervously. "If they aren't for fighting, what are they for? Torture? Ha Ha Ha." He noticed the man with Joxer's face wasn't laughing. Instead he nodded.

"Mom gave them to me then I passed 'em on to Joxer later. Oh, by the way, we aren't twins. We just look alike. He's my kid brother and I DON'T...LIKE..HOW..PEOPLE...TREAT..HIM! LIKE...YOU!!!" As he spoke Jett hit Autolycus in the forehead with stiffened fingers for emphasis.

"Now, now, Jett...don't be rash! I love Joxer like he was my own brother! Come to think of it, I've adopted Joxer as my brother! Yes sir! Joxer the brother! And that makes you my brother too! I know how much you care for your brothers!"

The assassin lightly drew the small knive back and forth across Autolycus's throat without breaking the skin. "Uh huh...I heard you when you thought I was Joxer. Didn't sound like brotherly love to me." There was a low raspy menace in the voice that made Autolycus wonder if his testicles would ever reappear from where they went into hiding.

Autolycus let a grappling hook fall into his right hand from his sleeve. He was judging the distance to the roof when Jett's hand came up holding a similar hook. "I've got one too. But you know what, thief? I use it for more than climbing."

The handsome thief said in a weak voice, "What do you use it for?"


Another figure, this one in black leather, appeared in the alleyway. "Okay, Jett. Come on, let him go."

Autolycus exclaimed, "Joxer! Buddy! Pal of mine! Am I glad to see you! Tell your big brother how close we are!"

Joxer sighed as he looked at the scene. He'd seen this so many times growing up: Jett about to take somebody apart with a grappling hook. It made him nostalgic for his childhood. "Sure, I guess. Let him go, Jett. You're doing this for me, right? Well, let him go."

The thief exhaled as Jett finally stepped back from him. "Want your clothes back, Jox? Y'want my advice you should dump them. Dress like an idiot and people will treat you like an idiot."

"Hey!" Autolycus cut in, "You were just all over me for being mean to..." He stopped as the tip of the small knife nestled in his left nostril. He had to rise to his tiptoes to accommodate it. Neither of the brothers seemed to even pay attention to him aside from Jett holding a knife in his nose.

Joxer said, "Never mind my clothes. Those gamblers who beat me up were found in twenty pieces. Stay out of my business, Jett! We aren't kids anymore, so stop acting like we are and hacking people apart."

Autolycus made an involuntary mouselike squeaking sound, then tried out another ingratiating smile on the brothers, who ignored him.

Jett said, "Why did you think I wanted your clothes--to make a fashion statement? Nobody treats my brother that way! Let's change back, Jox, and we can talk about it." He released Autolycus and the brothers walked off bickering.

"Nice seein' ya, boys," Autolycus called. He gulped again as Jett returned.

"I almost forgot about how you betrayed me," the assassin said in his raspy voice, and reached a hand out. Autolycus was preparing to make a break for it but Jett only took his money purse and glanced inside. "Not bad. I'll take this for my trouble. Or would you rather I took something else? Like your head, for instance?"

"No, no, Jett! All the money I have in the world sounds fair to me. Yes, sir, just fine. Never mind about me eating. I need to lose weight anyway. You just take my purse. Enjoy it with my blessing."

Jett nodded, "Thanks, I will," and disappeared to join his brother again.

Autolycus didn't make a wisecrack this time though it required a major act of will. He wanted to put distance between himself and the morose killer. He sensed something and turned to look deeper in the alley. "How long have you been there?"

The Warrior Princess came into the light, "Long enough."

"Did it occur to you to help me?" the handsome thief asked sarcastically.

Xena smiled and said, "Now why would I do that, Autolycus? Everything he took from you is stolen anyway. After all, you are the King of Thieves. And you did betray him. You got off easy."

"I betrayed him by helping you foil a murder plot, if you recall," he said in an aggrieved voice.

"No, first you ran out on him and THEN Gabrielle talked you into helping foil the plot for a possible reward. Not quite the same thing, Autolycus."

"And what if he'd decided to kill me," Autolycus asked outraged.

Xena innocently answered, "I'd feel awful foolish. The joke would really be on me."

"Ha Ha Ha," he said sullenly.

"Here," she said with a smile and tossed him something. Catching it he held a chicken leg. "That oughta hold you till you can steal something else. Seeya later." Xena sauntered past him but patted his shoulder affectionately. Autolycus frowned after her then shrugged and bit into the drumstick.

"Joxywoxy! Back for more so soon?"

Jett glanced at the speaker and tensed. Xena was coming right for him. She was in disguise obviously. She looked like a harlot, in fact.

Meg grinned. "That's a new look for you, aint it? Basic black. I like it! Though I like you're regular clothes anyway...or better yet, NO CLOTHES!" She stood close and was going to grind against him when he stepped back.

Meg squealed playfully, "Oh, I getya! Playin' hard to get, huh?" She turned away and then whirled back around and jumped at him with a cry of "Gotcha!"

Jett allowed her to hug him. He'd slipped a knife into his hand from his sleeve but now replaced it. This wasn't Xena. It was somebody who looked like her just like he looked like Joxer. "Ooga, ooga, ooga, ooga..." the trollop said as she nuzzled his ear. He actually found himself enjoying it. Then he caught himself, remembering what Gabrielle had said.

"Meg?" he ventured.

"Whatcha want this time, my big hunka Joxer meat? Warlord/Slave? Hurt/Comfort? Y'know I'm a switch." She pulled back and looked at him, a twinkle in her eyes, "I know! Assassin/Victim; ya'wanna pretend to be your brother again. That's his voice your doin' aint it? I recognize it, but you sound scarier. Y'been working on it, I bet. I'll get some pig's blood! Meet me upstairs." The woman goosed him with a laugh and bounded away.

Jett smiled slightly and prepared to leave but a commotion caught his attention.

"Meg! Help! Help!" A naked buxom blonde came tearing out of an upstairs room followed by a big weaving warrior with a knife.

Meg jumped in front of the man with her hands in fists and said, "Listen up! Ya lousy..." She was slapped aside by the man who pursued the fleeing girl down the stairs.

"Joxer, help!" the girl said when she saw him. Jett placed her behind him, put his hands on his hips and stood with his legs wide apart.

The warrior reached the bottom of the stairs and came toward them threateningly. "Out of my way!" he ordered loudly slurring his words.

"Don't let'im touch her, Jox!" Meg called. She'd been dazed but now she started quickly down the stairs. "I'm gonna pulverize him! Lemme at him!"

The naked girl said hysterically, "He said he was gonna cut my ears off! He has a bag of 'em!"

Jett grunted and said in his raspy low voice, "One chance...only one...get out."

The warrior looked disbelievingly at that idiot, Joxer. Meg came up and the drunken warrior made a grab for her. "I'll take your ears, too, whore!"

"Oh yeah? You and what army!?" Meg exploded. She was ducking and weaving, gettin' ready to give him the ol' one-two. Before she could do anything the jerk was down on his knees holding his gut. Joxer looked at him with this creepy smile, still pretending to be his brother. He was doing a good job too.

"Thanks, Jox. Just throw the loser out and send him home to mommy!" Meg sneered. She put an arm around the naked blonde who scampered over next to her. Another of the girls put a blanket around her.

Jett glanced at Meg, grunted and said, "Yeah, I'll send him home all right." He shoved the moaning man out the door and followed after him. Meg frowned then shrugged.

"Hey, what's going on?" Meg turned at the voice and saw Joxer walk in the side door in his usual helmet and armor.

Jett studied the cup of wine before him, considering what he had been doing since escaping from Maramis. Avenging his brother had been a no-brainer. Of course, he would do that. Hearing the story in Maramis was what convinced him to break out. He'd done it so his father wouldn't try. Dad was too old for that kind of thing, so Jett defended the family honor. One of these days he and his uncles and cousins would break Dad out. The only reason they hadn't yet was they knew he secretly liked the relief from Mom's nagging.

But what had happened in the brothel with that loser he made dig his own grave--that was different. He helped people who needed help for the first time in his life. And it wasn't because Meg was his brother's...whatever they were to each other. Jett thought back to when Joxer and Xena had stopped him from assassinating Cleopatra. The little blonde said Joxer was worth a thousand of him. His brother was a deluded bumbler but she thought Joxer was better than he was. Joxer claimed he'd been reformed from evil by Xena. Jett had to shake his head. Joxer evil? Now, he himself; if he changed it would be reforming. This wasn't the first time he'd considered this. It was the first time he thought he really might act on it though.

Jett glanced over at a well dressed man who sat down opposite him. The word was out. His escape made him even more in demand. The assassin studied the go-between who described the job. The rival of a city-state's first minister wanted Jett to help his career advance. The agent across from him said it would be best if it looked like an accident. He recommended the minister and his family die in a fire.

The assassin frowned. The man misinterpreted that and brought a bag of gold out. "Half now. The rest when it's done."

Jett hefted the bag and came to a decision. If he turned the job down they would get someone else. Instead he'd kill the man who wanted to hire him and, more than likely, his agent here. Maybe he could find a way to get the rest of the fee, but if not he'd make do with this. Being good entailed sacrifices Jett realized with a sigh.