A/N: This is a relatively general fic--my first in the Xena fandom--set somewhere after the episode A Comedy of Eros but before the whole 'Xena pregnancy' debacle. It's unrequited Joxer/Gabrielle…because frankly, there's not enough canon related Joxer stuff floating around here.
It was funny. Not 'ha ha' funny not even 'tee hee' funny.
No, it was that sort of 'cruelly ironic' funny that you pretended to laugh about so that you didn't look like an idiot in front of everyone else.
Looking back on it, Joxer realized there was a very good likelihood that he'd always been in love with Gabrielle in some form or another, he'd just been too dimwitted to realize it before the Eros debacle.
He tried to approach her once--once and only once--after it happened, and even then he only found bravery to broach the subject because she was three sheets to the wind and him not far behind her.
Xena was off doing Gods only knew what, and for a change Joxer had her all to himself. The battle of the evening had been won, celebrations had occurred, drink had been passed around, and now everyone in the immediate vicinity was pleasantly intoxicated.
He'd been drinking at the bar…at least, that's what he thought…his mind was foggy and he couldn't quite remember clearly; but he'd seen her across the room and he made the snap decision to go to her.
He had to tell her. Everything. He had to tell her that he'd go to the ends of the earth for her if she asked it of him…had to make it clear that for her, he'd be anything she wanted, anything, just so long as she'd grace him with a moment's true affection…
He was far from stealthy and nowhere near graceful, but everyone was too happy to care when he bumped into them clumsily on the way to speak with her, to tell her something meaningful--though he couldn't recall what--but the look in her eyes stopped his forward momentum.
Gabrielle was smiling, but it wasn't the radiant sober smile…this was the goofy, dopey grin of someone who'd had far more alcohol than she ever should have been allowed to imbibe.
"Joxer!" she exclaimed, her voice several levels above ear drum shattering. "Joxer, Joxer, Jox--HIC!"
She swayed and then tipped forward, directly into his chest.
Joxer caught her, his stringy, clumsy arms becoming solid and sure only when they were around her and with a strength he'd never shown without the aid of outside influence, lifted her into a bridal carry.
Gabrielle, being as inebriated as she was, allowed the trespass on her person and snuggled into his arms more securely even as he wobbled up the inn stairs and to her room. It took a bit of struggle on his part to get the door to swing open with arms full of woman, but he managed it and entered, dropping her far less gently than he would have liked on her cot.
Her head waggled as she strove to look up at him, blinking lazily and still smiling drunkenly. "Good catch."
He flopped down next to her, only nearly avoiding landing on her as he sat and she looked at him through bleary eyes.
"Gotta tell you somethin', Gabby," he'd said, unable to look at her and suddenly feeling far too sober for his liking.
Where had all that nice, nerve dulling alcohol fled to?
"Hmmm?" She half hummed, eyes slipping partially shut.
He waited for her response.
The delayed reaction of the giggle she released wasn't what he was expecting.
"'Course you do, Joxer." She poked him with one finger. "And I love you."
His heart soared for approximately the length of two full beats before--
"Yer one 'a my best friends." She hiccupped again and covered her face with her hands, giggling.
Something in his chest went still and dropped to the bottom of his boots like a stone with an almost audible clatter.
"Oh." His limbs felt leaden, the drop from euphoria was so desperately steep his body didn't quite understand how to adjust. It was a devastating crash landing back to earth after being so high in the stratosphere, but still he somehow manages another weary sounding "Oh."
"I'm glad we're friends-HIC-Joxer…" her voice was a slurred mutter; apparently, lying still was making her want to slip into unconsciousness.
Joxer gazed down at her, pressing his lips together in a parody of a smile to cover any of the glaring truth that was trying to shine through his façade. "I'm glad too, Gabrielle…"
She answered with a snore and he took that as his cue to exit. He stood, wobbling only slightly and headed for the doorway--which he crashed into with one shoulder as he looked back at her slumbering form.
Yes…for her, he could be anything...
He'd even be her...friend.