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The Dumbbell Is Mightier... or: Joxer's Dilemma

by Verrath

"Yes, Xena! Come on! Push! Push!"

Sweat glistened on the Warrior Princess' tanned skin, accentuating the rhythmic movements of her well-defined body.

"Yes! Almost!"

Xena's breath came in ragged gasps; muscles rippled under moist skin. The bard's words, and that loved face that showed the same inner tension that the warrior herself felt, urged her on - up and down, up and down.

"You've almost reached a hundred, Xena. You can do it!"

"Ninety-three, ninety-four..." gasped the warrior, as she brought the weights up again and again, arms extended. Gabrielle had worked out a series of exercises that were designed to work every one of her muscle groups. But this one, aimed at her pectorals, seemed to have tickled the bard's fancy. This was the third time Xena was doing it!

Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one hundred!" With a grateful sigh, the warrior dropped the two dumbbells.

They were in the main room of a modern kind of training hall, that Gabrielle had come upon by chance on one of her shopping sprees through the city of Athens. The place held an assortment of workout devices and weights - called dumbbells. - that were supposed to be used by warriors to work those muscle groups that regular fighting practice did not include.

The owner called it a "Fitness-Studio".

At first, Xena had just shaken her head derisively. No self-respecting warrior was going to put a foot inside this place. But then Gabrielle had used that look on her...

To her mild surprise, the hall had been packed. The first day they had been forced to wait in line for one of the workout machines. Most of them were weak-chested men in wide trunks, or chubby women in skimpy outfits sweating away at the weights.

"Warriors, huh?" Xena had said with a raised eyebrow. Gabrielle had just shrugged.

But only a few sessions had been enough to convince the warrior that going to this place might not be a bad idea after all. Of course, if they had been on the road, and not forced to stay here for the duration of a bard's workshop that Gabrielle was attending, she would not have needed anything like this - the world out there was more than enough to keep her on her toes, literally. But, cooped up in the big city, she found that these sessions helped her get rid of her excess energy. She just wasn't cut out to stay still for long.

Gabrielle, too, had been pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing. She had set about designing a comprehensive workout plan for her friend, and of course, she was there most mornings to see that it was properly executed. That was the reason. The fact that she got to see the warrior minus her armor and leathers, in a tightly fitting top and pants that the bard had picked herself (to Xena's horror), which set off her well-defined abdomen and thighs, to see her sweat and strain, hear the heavy breathing, and watch those muscles ripple underneath the bronze skin... that, of course had nothing to do with it. Nothing at all.

Now the bard was busily checking the scroll that held the warrior's exercises.

"No, Gabrielle," growled the warrior when the bard started to speak, "I will not lift another one of these things today. We've been here since sunrise. I'm ready for a bath, and some breakfast."

"But, Xena, we were just getting started on your... well your rear. It's a problem area, you know? All that horseback-riding has made it rather-"


"You know I'm right," said Gabrielle, grinning.

"Nonsense," Xena barked, and shot a withering glare at the bard when she heard her giggle.

The budding argument was interrupted by the sound of the door banging open. An all too well-known form stumbled inside, panting. Xena rolled her eyes, and Gabrielle sighed deeply.

"I thought I might find you here," said Joxer, for it was none other than him who now stood before them. "Listen, girls, I'm in a bit of trouble here..."

Xena groaned softly. Then, wordlessly, she stretched herself out on her stomach, clasped a dumbbell between her legs, and began the next exercise.

"Why, Joxer, what happened?" asked Gabrielle. "Did you annoy the local warlord by accidentally dumping a mug of ale on him, and now you're followed by a band of bloodthirsty soldiers?

"Um... approximately," Joxer said, embarrassed. He cleared his throat. "Anyway, I think it would be okay if I could kind of... disappear for a while." The look he gave the two women was pleading.

Gabrielle pondered for a moment; Joxer really looked desperate! They had to try and get him out of trouble. Then her eyes fell on the dumbbell wedged between Xena's legs...

Xena, noticing the bard's glance, paused. "We should hide him," she offered, the corners of her mouth twitching.

"I'm sure a good disguise would do the trick," agreed Gabrielle with a mischievous grin.

"What... what are you thinking?" Joxer asked uncertainly. He suddenly looked ready to throw himself at the angered warlord's mercy. For he did not like the identical looks on the two women's faces one bit. They reminded him of cats staring at a finch caught in a bush.

"Excellent idea, Gabrielle." Sitting up, Xena hefted the dumbbell while regarding Joxer thoughtfully.

"You guys," exclaimed Joxer, "what's going on here?" His voice was taking on a decidedly hysterical pitch.

Gabrielle looked down at herself, then at Joxer, considering. Then she shook her head. "Too small, won't work. Take off your top, Xena."

Xena nodded, and, with a quick movement she untied the strings that held the garment in place. A moment later it slid gently to the ground.

Joxer fainted.


"You can't be serious," Joxer whined. "There's no way I'm gonna go outside looking like this!"

Xena was struggling valiantly to keep back a grin. "I hear that Adamus is a very brutal man, with a violent temper," she said seriously. "And his men aren't much better."

Clearing his throat noisily, Joxer looked at his image in the mirror once more.

A buxom, middle-aged woman looked out at him, wearing his face. His chest was covered by one of Gabrielle's blouses. It fit a little tightly, but they had found nothing better on such short notice.

The large linen towel Xena had brought to wipe away sweat had been transformed into a fashionable, long skirt.

Some friendly woman, jogging in place panting, had helped them out with facial paint, and with the bard's creative talents, Joxer now had a smooth tan, full, red lips and alluring, long-lashed eyes.

And, the masterpiece of the disguise, held in place by Xena's top and hidden by the improvised dress - the dumbbell.

"Are you sure this is gonna work?" asked Joxer, and pushed the weight up to where it didn't bother him as much. "That thing's heavy. It'll slip."

"Nah, that top is pretty sturdy," Gabrielle smirked as she batted his hands away to restore the dumbbell to its original position. If Joxer hadn't known Xena so well, he would have said she was blushing at the bard's words. But it must be a trick of the light.

"Above all, you should keep your mouth shut," the Warrior Princess advised him. "You don't want to give yourself away."

At that moment, the door flew open for the second time. There in the entrance stood a slightly drunk and hardly amused looking warlord. His trousers were soiled by a large, dark stain that reeked of old beer.

"Where is that blasted bugger? Someone said he saw him go in here."

Joxer squeaked once, and fell silent.

"What are you talking about, good sir," said Gabrielle with a sweet smile as she pushed Joxer the boob-wonder, past the man and through the door.

"No-one came in here but you," Xena told him innocently before she followed her friends.

The warlord looked after them, suspicious. He sort of liked the oldest of the three. His mouth broke into a crooked grin as he watched her arrange her ample bosom underneath her blouse. And yet, somehow, he had the feeling these women were keeping something from him...


Gabrielle was breathing easier by the time they had closed that door behind them and were crossing the street towards their Inn.

Joxer, however, grew more and more uneasy. Nervously he adjusted the unfamiliar clothes.

"Gabrielle," he whispered urgently.

"Not now, Joxer," Gabrielle hissed back. "His men are still out here. We don't want their attention."

"But Gabrielle, the dumbbell Xena's top..."

The bard clapped her hand over his mouth when she noticed a soldier staring at them.

"Poor thing, she's got this bad cold," she told the man, and urged Joxer on. "Hoarse. Shouldn't be talking."

The soldier eyed them doubtfully.

As for Xena, she suddenly found a spot on her arm immensely interesting. Lips pressed firmly together, she set about examining it closely.

Thus they arrived on the far side of the street, and made it safely inside the common room of the small inn where the warrior and the bard were staying.

Not a moment too soon, for no sooner had they closed the door than the top finally gave out, and released its heavy cargo to drop uninhibited straight onto one of Joxer's large feet. It made its way in a rumbling roll under the counter, where it thudded against the wall and lay still.

The sound was drowned by Joxer's pained Yelp. The few guests in the common room turned to look in wonder at the strange woman hopping on one leg holding a hurt foot, and cursing roundly in a way too deep voice.

Xena twisted around, straining to look down her own backside.

"Hey, Gabrielle, do you really think my butt is too big...?"


The End

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