Gina: Warrior Princess

by Lori Bush (

Disclaimers: Xena, Gabrielle, Joxer and the way the gods are depicted belong to RenPics and Universal/USA. Gina and Marla, as well as that lazy cat, are my own creations, although I own a cat very much like this one. Much to my husband's eternal regret, I do not and will not profit from this little venture, and suing me would really be a waste of time.

Rating: G

Violence: Some vague fighting. Someone gets a good swift kick where it counts. That's it.

Sex: Sorry, folks - none

Archive: All the lists to which it is sent. Raye. My site, of course. Everyone else, just check - I love to see my stuff up at lots of places. g

Yep, Xena's preggers in this one. So you know how long ago I actually wrote it. I have a number of stories backlogged, but a while ago, I decided that releasing something lighthearted would be good about now. This is here thanks to Chris, who managed to ignore my obsession with wizards long enough to motivate me to put this story out. He cleaned it up, made encouraging noises, and here it is.

Oh, by the way, in case you wonder, (and Chris did, of course g) - listen to 'Dite explain how Gina got there, it explains why she can understand the language. The wonders of parallel universes - they cover a multitude of plot holes.

Marla Puckett pointed the remote at the television and the picture faded away. Another Joxer-less Xena episode. She really liked the show, but it was so much better when he was a part of it. The girl looked around for her wild little half-sister, finally eyeing her threatening the cat with a ruler, whipping the flat plastic stick in figure eights around the bored tabby's head. "Gina," she called. The child jumped back, spinning and resuming her attack from a slightly different position. "Gina!" Still no response. "Hey, brat," Marla yelled in exasperation, finally getting the five-year-old's attention. "You'd better go outside. If Julie catches you doing that in here, you're toast."

The little girl's face screwed up for a minute in thought, but she must have decided that Marla was right, because she dropped the ruler on the floor and stepped over the motionless cat on the way to the door. Turning back to the uninterested feline before her final exit, she declared, "I have many skills." Then she flounced outside, slamming the door behind her.

Marla picked up the ruler and sighed. She usually kinda liked the little brat, but it was so hard, being the sixteen-year-old in a house with a five-year-old and a pregnant stepmother. Just two more years, she reminded herself; then she could blow this joint and go someplace interesting. She didn't care where, as long as they had Xena and The X-Files on cable there.

Gina managed to unearth the perfect stick - just the right length for a sword. The last stick she found that was straight enough had been too long, so she finally ended up playing Gabrielle, and used it as her staff. Even though Gabrielle didn't have her staff on the show anymore, Gina still thought it was cool. But she really wanted to be Xena, and this stick she had found today was perfect. She thrust it at a threatening tree stump, which fell silent in fear. Knocking it out with a swift blow to the head, she searched for its companions, taking out a goldenrod before it could raise its weapon. After beating an entire crowd of dandelions into submission, she smiled and sheathed her new weapon in the back waistband of her denim shorts.

Nearly ready to declare her victory and go inside to see if Animaniacs was on, Gina heard a giggle back in the thicker trees near the creek. Although she knew she wasn't supposed to go beyond the tool shed into those trees, she pulled out her sword and crept into the cool shadows to defend her home and family. The oddly dressed blonde-haired boy took her so by surprise she barely kept her grip on the stick. She found herself fascinated with the pretty wings on his shoulders, and he struck her as vaguely familiar. He was probably a year or two younger than she, but when he grinned at her and asked, "Pway?" she couldn't refuse the invitation. Pushing her stick back into the elastic on her shorts, she took his outstretched hand and stepped with him through the whirling vortex.

Somewhere along the line, Gina lost her grip on the little boy's hand. As soon as his fingers slipped from hers, she felt herself falling. She was trying to decide whether to holler for mommy or not when she hit the ground with an "Oomph!" Her desire to cry out was snatched from her along with the breath needed to do so, and she lay there a moment, stunned. Opening her eyes, she looked into the face of a pretty blonde-haired lady wearing about as much as Marla wore to the pool when she knew mommy and daddy weren't going to see her leaving. Gina's eyes grew wider when she realized just whom it was bending over her. The little girl scrambled to her feet, crying out, "You're Gab-relle!"

Gabrielle had heard the noise while she was scouting for food, and decided to investigate. Pulling her sais, she crept silently to the clearing, where she viewed the pile of limbs, hair and strangely colored clothing with interest. It didn't look dangerous. Sheathing her weapons but still prepared to pull and use them at a moments notice, she carefully circled the bundle, which appeared to be a small, peculiarly dressed child. She had long, very dark curly hair, which lay in a tangle about her round face. She wore very short blue pants in an odd material, and shirt made of something soft in a highly unnatural shade of green. The shoes on her feet were not made of any type of leather Gabrielle had ever seen before. Suddenly, the girl's eyelids flew open, revealing dark intelligent eyes. The bard almost fell over when the child identified her by name. She was sure they had never met before.

"You know," the girl chattered conversationally, "you're much prettier for real. Marla says she's happy you're kicking butt again, too. She didn't like all that lovey stuff - she says you were a wimp. Where'd that little boy go?" The change in subject coming so soon after the girl had expressed rapid-fire intimate knowledge of her personal life was enough to make Gabrielle's head, which was already light, spin almost out of control.

"What little boy?" The Warrior Bard decided to abandon any effort at understanding why this child knew so much about her, and focus on the one thing she had a chance of comprehending. "You were alone."

"The boy who wanted to play." The girl grabbed Gabrielle's hand. "If you're here, Xena must be, too. I wanna meet her." She began dragging the stunned woman away from the camp, and finally Gabrielle was able to pull together her concentration sufficiently to aim them both in the proper direction.

Gabrielle and Gina both spotted the tall oddly dressed warrior at the same time. He was sitting on a fallen log, re-lacing his boots, when the child squealed and he looked up. "Joxter" she cried, hurtling towards him and landing in his lap, eliciting a breathless grunt from the man. She threw her arms around him. "I'm so glad you're here, Marla says she doesn't know why you keep going away. I'm gonna marry you, you know? 'Cause Marla says she' s too stupid to ever figure out how cute you are."

Joxer was still making a valiant effort to regain his breath. He heard the bundle of words in his lap mention several things that didn't connect, and he found himself wondering just what a "Marla" was, and why it was stupid.

Gabrielle saw the child motion in her direction while making the last statement, and was highly offended by the implication. She was not too stupid to. Wait a minute!

The girl jumped up off Joxer's lap and wandered about, checking out the campsite. Joxer stood, regaining his breath, and turned to Gabrielle. "Did you understand any of that?" he asked, sincerely befuddled.

"Oh, yeah," the bard replied testily, "you mean to say you didn't put her up to that? I'll bet! Putting me on the spot once wasn't enough, huh? Now you' ve got some child doing your dirty work."

"Gabby, I don't, I mean, she doesn't." The look on his true love's face indicated real trouble was on its way, and he had even less of a clue about what he had done wrong than usual. She'd been out of sorts with him frequently ever since he had told her of his feelings, but not out and out furious, the way she appeared right now. "What's a Marla, anyway?"

Xena rode Argo into the camp, noticing first the small child poking in the supply bags. Gabrielle appeared to be ready to clobber the Mighty One, who seemed to be even more confused than his usual state. "Hullo?" she called out, hesitantly, while dismounting.

The girl brought her head up sharply, and seeing the Warrior Princess, abandoned her explorations and ran to her, skidding to a stop in the fallen leaves before the tall woman. The child stood stock still for a moment, her dark eyes as big as saucers, and the warrioress looked back at her with mild curiosity. Then, reaching behind her, the girl pulled out a long stick, held it out before her, and in a dramatic but childish voice, proclaimed, "We meet at last! I am Gina: Warrior Princess."

The corner of Xena's mouth quirked up in an attempt to fight off a smile. Gabrielle's expression went from anger to shock before stopping at an incredulous grin. Joxer's mouth hung open, and Xena found herself wondering if he had remembered to breathe lately. The child hadn't moved, apparently waiting for her response. Xena began to smile more broadly, but then the seriousness of the girl's expression froze her own. Gravely, she held out her arm. "It's good to meet you, Gina." The girl reached out, gamely attempting to imitate the firm warrior's greeting she had seen before on television. The formal greeting over, the real Warrior Princess knelt down, looking her little admirer in the eye. "How did you get here, Gina?"

"That boy. Where did he go, anyway? He said he wanted to play, then he left me here." The small warrior's voice began to quiver, and Xena couldn't help herself. She reached out and pulled Gina into her arms, which the child took as permission to bawl. Ever since she had found out she was pregnant, Xena had been fighting urges to cuddle and coo over small things, and this one was too hard to resist. She listened as Gina cried herself out, slowing to an occasional gasp and hiccup. "I," (hic) "don't know how" (sniff) "to get home."

"Where is home?" the woman asked, stroking Gina's hair.

The child held her head up proudly. This was a skill they had learned just recently in kindergarten, and she would be pleased to show her talent with it. "1225 South Venture Road, Kansas City, Missouri, 66332. Wanna know my phone number?" the child offered eagerly.

Xena knew she was in way over her head here. She had never heard of the place Gina had mentioned - in fact, she only thought it was a place. The combination of words and numbers could have meant almost anything. "South", and "venture" and "road" were all words with meaning, but not when used in such a way as the child had used them.

"Uh," the pregnant woman said, helplessly, "that's okay. Not right now."

Just then the air sparkled in gold and pink. "There you are," Aphrodite sang out joyously, then spotted the girl and frowned. "You're not Bliss. I could have sworn his power signature was here."

"It was." Xena saw a number of things more clearly now. "This is Gina. She's not from around here. I think Bliss brought her here to play, and somehow he lost her."

'Dite nodded seriously, a small thoughtful pout puckering her lips. Gina, startled by the goddess' arrival, had gone back to Joxer and crawled up into his lap, where he was stroking her dark head absently. "Maybe we should try to get you back home," the love goddess offered. "Can I check in your mind and see where that is, exactly?" She was looking at Gina, who didn't really understand, but obviously appeared to trust the people around her. If there were danger, she knew Joxer and Xena would protect her. Probably Gabrielle, too. Finally she held out her arms, and Aphrodite gathered her up.

Taking in a shaky breath, the girl stared at the goddess. "I know you. You' re Akrodite, aren't you?"

Love Incarnate looked a bit put out. "The name is Aphro-dite, thank you very much. Now, can I do this or not?" The little girl nodded her agreement.

The goddess concentrated, her look passing through confused to stricken. "Now, how did that little stinker do that?" she murmured, concern and amusement both in her tone. She set Gina down, and the child scurried back to Joxer's lap, settling once again in that refuge. 'Dite looked around at the expectant mortals, her eyes wide. "I was watching the kid for Cupid, and we went to see Daddy. Bliss wandered off, and the next thing I knew, he'd opened some portal he found in Daddy's closet, and he was gone. Apparently this thing crossed both time and dimensions - she's from the future, but not our future. It's complicated." The goddess looked around at half-comprehending faces. "The only way to get back is to go the same way they got here. But first I need to find Bliss."

Xena pulled the goddess to one side to talk, and Gabrielle sensed that she shouldn't follow. She turned instead and studied the tall warrior and the little girl. He was still stroking her hair, and singing to her softly as she giggled. His grin was a mile wide, and his eyes were softer than she'd ever seen - an echo of a look she'd noticed him giving her in the past, but even gentler.

Meanwhile, Xena and Aphrodite were deep in conversation. "I mean it," the dark woman told the blonde goddess intently, "I want to go back with you, just to make sure everything is okay before we leave her there."

"I never thought I'd see the day a little girl could get so thoroughly under the skin of the Warrior Princess," 'Dite said in wonder. "Except maybe that one," she finished, patting Xena's belly. "Why on earth did you tell Ares that Blondie was acting as the father, anyway? Studmuffin's a better choice for the job."

"Because he might think that could have possibly happened. I like Joxer, but not that much - even the thought gives me chills."

"How about your little sidekick?" the love goddess mused, looking over towards the others. "She."

"Needs to make up her mind for herself. Keep out of it."

'Dite sighed. "Some of you mortals make my job tough." She rolled her eyes. "I'll be back as soon as I find Bliss and pin his wings to the wall somewhere." She flashed out of sight.

Xena approached the bard quietly, seeing her attention was focused on the pair by the fire pit. "He'll make a good dad someday, won't he?"

Gabrielle jumped. "I-I guess so," she gulped.

"He really is a good man," Xena went on softly. "I know you know that."

"I know. I just.I don't know, Xena. Maybe I was just meant to be alone. I mean, not alone, there's you and there'll be the baby and."

"And Joxer. He's not going away, Gabrielle."

"I know. And I know I need to talk to him about.everything. I just wish there was something I could tell him, one way or the other."

"Maybe you two could work it out together."

"Maybe." Whatever Gabrielle planned to say was lost when a small sparkle of white appeared in front of Joxer. Gina's face lit up as she reached for the boy's small hand.

"Pway!" Bliss announced, and the child and the godling both disappeared.

Moments later, Aphrodite reappeared. "Where is he? I know it was him this time."

"Gone. And he took Gina." The look on Xena's face left no doubt that if she got her hands on Aphrodite's grandson, she would be sleeping on a new feather pillow that night. "Find them!"

The goddess frowned in concentration. "Bliss?"

The voice came from the air. "Gwama pway too? Pway hi-seek. You it." The childish giggle that followed left no doubt that the godling had no idea that anyone was upset at him.

'Dite rolled her eyes. "He and Cupie play this all the time. The little rat' s pretty good at it, too." She was about to go, when it occurred to her. "You guys do whatever you were planning to do today - I'll catch up later. No sense in you sitting here worrying." With that she vanished prettily.

There was some argument - Joxer wanted to wait and see if Gina returned on her own, while the two women agreed that Aphrodite could find them when she wanted to, and sitting around was useless. As usual, Joxer lost. The trio packed up and moved on in the direction they had originally been going.

Meanwhile, Gina and Bliss were hiding in a cave not far from where the heroic trio were heading. Gina was a little frightened - she didn't really like the dark much, and there was a whole bunch of it behind her. She was about to mention this, when she saw Bliss tilt his head. Then he whispered to her, "Gwama coming," and sparkled away, forgetting to take her along. The little girl spied the goddess, who appeared just outside the cave, frowned in concentration and disappeared again, all in a matter of seconds.

Gina waited a few minutes more, the dark seeming to grow in size and danger behind her. Finally, she stepped out into the woods. "Joxter? Xena? Anybody?" Right now, she'd even settle for Gab-relle. She just needed someone to reassure her that the dark didn't hold any monsters. Unfortunately the light did.

"What have we here?"

Gina jumped at the harsh voice. Turning, she saw it was owned by a large, dirty, very nasty-looking man. Before she could say anything, he swooped in and picked her up roughly. The child squealed in fear, and he clamped a calloused hand over her mouth.

"A little foundling, huh? You'll fetch me a nice price at the next market. People like slaves they can train from childhood." Up close Gina realized the man smelled bad, too. What would a true Warrior Princess do in this situation? After a moment's consideration, she bit him.

Ready to be dropped, she rolled as she hit the ground, and found her voice. "Xena! Joxter! Heeelp!" the child was screaming and running while the slaver was sucking the blood from the teeth marks in his hand.

"Come back here, you brat!" He had finally recovered to see his profit heading out of the area, and he stormed after her.

Joxer heard the screaming as he refastened his pants, having parted from the women and gone into the forest to use the little boy's bush. Immediately, he ran in the direction of the voice, fumbling his sword out as he crashed through the underbrush. Just as he reached a small clearing, Gina flew out and hurtled into his arms, too breathless to do anything but cry in big sobbing gulps. A larger crashing indicated her pursuer was not far behind.

Gina hid behind her friend as the large man emerged into the open. "There you are you little brat. Come back, and I might let this guy live," the slaver growled.

Joxer held his sword before him, shaking a little. "You leave her alone," he demanded, his voice breaking only slightly. "Gina, go find Xena and Gabrielle," he ordered more confidently over his shoulder. He heard the small form run quickly in the direction from which he had just come.

Returning his attention to the challenge before him, he saw that the man had come closer, and was now within sword range, a nasty looking knife in his hand. Joxer closed his eyes and swung desperately, and as often was the case when he fought, the Fates smiled upon him. He connected with the man's blade, knocking it out of his grip and into the underbrush. The slaver barely slowed, and his meaty right fist came up and connected with Joxer's left eye socket. The tall warrior went down, but was not out, although his head was a bit fogged. He saw the man approaching, apparently planning to kill him with his bare hands. That really wouldn't look good to Gabby, and besides, he needed to protect Gina. Joxer tried to think what either of the women would do in this situation, then quickly abandoned that as impractical. As the man hovered above him, Joxer did what he knew would make the most impact - he kicked the slave trader in the groin. Hard.

The big man doubled over in pain, and Joxer managed to kick again, this time connecting solidly with the man's chin and knocking him out for the count. As the man fell, Gabby came crashing through the underbrush, sais at the ready. Surprised, she looked from Joxer to the large body sprawled out before him, then back again. "Nice work," she commented, grudgingly. Finally, she noticed Joxer's eye, which was beginning to swell. She dropped to her knees beside him. "That's gotta hurt."

He looked at her steadily through his one good eye. "Would you please tie that guy up before he comes to and finishes the job?"

"Uh, oh, sure." Gabrielle found a length of rope on the big man, and used it to fasten him securely to a nearby tree. Then she helped the Mighty One to his feet, and back toward the road he had left what seemed a long time before. When they got there, Xena was waiting.

"Figured you could handle that one by yourself," the Warrior Princess announced somewhat smugly from her position seated on the ground, Gina in her arms.

The bard looked uncomfortable. "Actually, when I got there, Joxer had knocked him out already." Gina jumped up from Xena's admittedly crowded lap and ran to the warrior, hugging him around the knees.

Xena rose gingerly. "Let me look at that eye." She squinted at him, touching it lightly and causing the man to cringe. "Gabrielle, go get my herb pack." The bard went over to the saddlebag, bringing back the requested item. Xena wrapped up some things in cloth, and poured some water from the skin at her side over it. "Keep this on as long as you can, and put it back on every now and then. It should help with the pain, anyway."

Gabrielle started to get irritated again. Joxer didn't need her to help him; he already had Gina's total devotion. The child thought she was stupid. What was going on around here, anyway? The bard lapsed into sulky silence.

The uncomfortable quiet was building. Fortunately, Aphrodite chose that moment to sparkle into view. "Got 'im!" the goddess crowed. "His dad is explaining the facts of mortal interaction to him right now, like not taking people from other dimensions without someone's permission."

Xena's eyebrow rose. "Or at all?"

"Whatever. You ready to go home, baby face?" The goddess looked at the child clinging to Joxer's hand.

The little dark head nodded seriously, and she released the tall man. Walking over to Gabrielle, she tugged on the bottom of the bard's short skirt. When the blonde woman bent over, she got a quick hug. "Thank you for helping Joxter take care of me." The statement did little to ease the woman' s already bleak mood.

Next, Gina came back around to Joxer, who was already kneeling in anticipation. She put her hands on either side of his face and looked deeply and seriously into his eyes. "I'm going to tell Marla that you really are as cute as she thinks you are." Joxer lowered his eyes and blushed. The girl kissed him on the cheek, and squeezed his neck tightly. "I'll miss you."

He squeezed her back. "Yeah. I'll miss you too." The whole tender scene was annoying Gabrielle even further, and a part of her mind, which she quickly silenced, wondered why.

Then the child stepped between Aphrodite and Xena, taking one of each of their hands in hers. 'Dite looked at Xena, who nodded, and they sparkled away.

The two women and the girl reappeared in the woods behind Gina's home. They heard a frantic voice. "Gina! Giiiinaaa! Where are you?" The voice sounded young, and close to tears.

The calls drew closer, and finally a teenaged girl came into the woods and spotted the child. "Gina! Thank God you're home. Have you been here all along?" Finally, the girl noticed the women with the little girl. "Who are you? Did you take her?"

Gina grinned. "Marla - this is Xena and Aphrodite."

Marla's eyes grew big as saucers, and then narrowed to slits. "Naw. Not really. Okay, you guys kinda look like 'em, but it's probably 'cos those are really great costumes. Did you know that would lure her away? Why did you bring her back if you went to all this trouble to catch her, huh?" She pulled her half sister away from the strangers.

'Dite was running out of patience. "Chill, sister. We brought her back 'cos Bliss took her. She's been safe and fine, but we gotta blow." She tapped her slippered foot and looked at Xena for confirmation.

The Warrior Princess was smiling in satisfaction. "So this is Marla?" she asked the child. "She always this protective?"

Gina looked from her sister to her role model. "Naw. She usually pretends she hates me, but I know better." Marla gave a surprised half smile, and the child grinned back.

Xena looked at Aphrodite. "I think she'll be okay here. I just had to make sure."

The child approached Xena and held out her arm again. The Warrior Princess duplicated the arm clasp they had performed upon first meeting, and the little girl glowed. She pulled the pregnant woman down, and when she bent forward, Gina threw her arms around her idol's neck. Xena returned the hug with affection, trying to convince herself she just had something in her eyes, causing them to tear up. The tall woman stood straight, moved back, and in a sparkle she and the goddess disappeared.

Marla stood, slack-jawed. "Did they." she finally choked out. "Were they really?"

Gina giggled. "Yup. That was them. And Joxter's just as cute for really as he is on TV. He's really nice, too."

"Oh, my.. Gina, don't say anything to Julie or Dad, or anybody about where you've been. They'll lock you up, or something. It's our secret, okay?"

The child grasped her sister's hand tightly. " 'Kay."

Aphrodite made Xena go along with her to Cupid's to impress upon both Bliss and his father the seriousness of the godling's transgression. Psyche was appropriately horrified at her son's actions, and 'Dite managed to swat her own son a few times, alerting him to the inappropriateness of his first reaction, which was to giggle, especially about his son's prowess at hide and seek. Cupid finally managed to don a grave expression, and after all the grownups had given him a strict talking-to, Bliss was put to bed. By the time Xena returned to her campsite, it was well after dark.

From her first glimpse of the area, the Warrior Princess could tell that Gabrielle and Joxer had had a "discussion". There were blade marks from the bard's sais in several trees, food thrown about, and she almost tripped over Joxer's helmet, which had been beaten quite out of shape. Half afraid she would find pieces of Joxer further on, she tiptoed quietly into where the fire ring lay cold and unlit. She breathed a sigh of relief when she saw the lanky man asleep sitting up, his back against a tree. Looking closer, she realized that Gabrielle was tucked under his arm, also asleep, her head on his chest. Both still wore all their clothes, except for Joxer's armor. Joxer's left eye was swollen pretty seriously, but she knew for sure that was from his earlier encounter.

Xena figured that making this kind of mess must have been exhausting, but they would be better rested if they slept in a normal position. She laid out their bedrolls, close beside each other, and went to shake the tall almost-warrior awake. She knew better than to try and wake the bard.

Joxer opened his one good eye slowly, his expression sleep-befuddled. She whispered, "Can you carry Gabrielle over to her bedroll?" He nodded slowly, carefully disengaged himself and swept the smaller woman up in his arms. As he went to lay her gently down, she tangled her fingers in his tunic and refused to let go. "No, Joxer," the blonde woman mumbled sleepily, "I'm not too stupid." Finally he shrugged, grinned and joined his love on her bedroll, upon which she promptly curled back up on his shoulder. Soon he was snoring softly again. Xena sighed, and pulled Joxer's pelts over the two as they slept. Cradling her rotund stomach in her arms, she walked to her own pelts and settled in. She could hardly wait to hear this story in the morning.