A Puppy's Tale

Chapter One By Xena

Gabrielle looked up at the red sky and sighed happily. "What an incredible sunset!" she breathed in the fresh crisp air and leaned her head against Xena's shoulder.

"I'm glad you like it. I ordered it just for you." Xena whispered in her lifemate's ear.

Gabrielle giggled, but snuggled closer anyway. "You can't fool me, Warrior Princess! I know you have many skills, but I happen to know that commanding nature isn't one of them."

Xena chuckled. "Darn. You found me out."

Gabrielle turned to be face to face with her Love, and then reached up, offering herself for a kiss. Xena was no fool....she leaned over and enveloped the Bard in a kiss that shook the world.

Then they realized that the world was shaking...trembling in fact.

"I didn't know I was that good." the Warrior grinned, but drew her sword in case something other than nature was afoot.

"Look!" Gabrielle pointed, and there by a stand of trees the ground was opening up making a tunnel of sorts. Out of that tunnel came a black chariot drawn by two black horses. Only one Being drove a chariot like that..

"Hades." Xena said, putting her sword back in her scabbard.

The God of the Underworld drew up beside the two women and nodded in greeting. "Xena...Gabrielle."

"What brings you out on a night like this. Joy riding?" Xena quipped.

"Hardly. I've lost something and am looking for it."

That got Gabrielle's imagination going. "You lost something? What? Your Helmet of Invisibility? Your Sword? Your..."

Hades cut her off with a wave of his gloved hand. "No... my dog. Have either of you seen Cerberus?"

Chapter Two By Leonie

Xena placed a hand on her hip and grinned at the God of the Underworld. "You lost Cerberus?" She smirked. "Your kidding right? I mean, how do you loose a 10 foot tall mutant dog with three heads?"

Hades whipped his head away from Gabrielle to face Xena. "He is NOT mutant!" he shouted.

Still with the smirk Xena put her hands up as if to defend herself from Hades' 'wrath'. "Whoa boy, down now. I'm just saying he's HUGE and not going blend into just any ol' pack of dog's you know."

"Listen, I don't have time to sit here and joke around with you. I've got to find him. If Zeus finds out he got loose again..."

"What, big bad Hades scared of Daddy Zeus?" Gabrielle teased. Rather enjoying the discomfort Hades was in. It wasn't everyday you found the arrogant and mighty Hades in a bad spot.

Xena glanced from Hades face, which was quickly turning purple to Gabrielle's which was beginning to burst into laughter and quickly stepped in to diffuse the situation.

Chapter Three By Xena

"Take it easy, Hades." the Warrior held up her hand in a placating manner. "We were just having a little fun is all. We respect you, you know that. Now let's put her heads together and think of where he could have gone.." Gabrielle laughed, covering her mouth.

"What?" Hades asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Oh nothing...just too bad we only have one head each..." she broke out into fresh laughter.

"Gabrielle..." Xena drew out her lifemate's name in a warning, but the Bard was on a roll.

"Let's see..have I seen a three headed dog?" she repeated, and Xena stepped back, covering her eyes with her hands. When Gabby got like that it was best to just stand back and let her go.

"I've seen the three Fates and the three Furies.." she exchanged glances with Xena. "Neither of whom were any fun. I've seen fire and I've seen rain...I've seen sunny days I thought would never end...but I've never seen a three headed dog."

Hades folded his arms across his chest and sighed. "Are you done now?" he asked, but Xena could see a twinkle in his eye. He did, after all, have a good sense of humor. And as far as the Olympians went, he was a good guy to have on your side.

"So how can we help?" Xena asked.

"Just keep an eye out." Hades told them both. "Like you said, you can't miss him. He was last seen in this area. He shouldn't be too far from here. When you find him, you know what to do." and with a snap of the reins, the horses pulled the chariot away and in a flash he was gone.

"What was that all about?" Gabrielle asked. "And what did he mean...'you'll know what to do.'?"

"Cerberus' soft spot is his tummy. If you rub it, he falls asleep."

But what if he's not in the mood for a tummy rub?"

"Then you get your head bitten off." Xena said cheerily. "C'mon, let's start looking."

Chapter Four By Leonie

Knowing that Cerberus wasn't likely to stay to any trails since he was not especially fond of people or well.. anything for that matter. Xena and Gabrielle were soon looking for his trail in the forest. Of course it didn't take them long to find Cerberus trail. For that's all it could be called. He had cut a very wide swatch of Forest fauna down while tramping through it, in search of whatever it was that had his mind at the moment.

"So your just going to run under him and start rubbing his belly like it was Jedi then?" Gabrielle still wasn't convinced this could possibly be the plan of action. "No sword or swing? Your not going to knock him out and have Argo drag him back to Hades?"

At the mention of her name, Argo whinnied loudly and shook her head, her mane whipped around Gabrielle's hands.

Xena reached up and rubbed her equine companion. "No girl, no towing for you." Looking up to Gabrielle she said. "It will work. Cerberus is really just a big puppy. Sometimes he get's into bad moods." Xena shrugged. "It's not exactly fun being stuck down in Hades all the time. Tied up so you can't hardly play. And any time somebody does show up it's not to play with you but to try to slip past you and make it in to Hades alive."

"Sounds like you feel sorry for him, Xena."

"I guess I do." Xena smiled sadly.

Argo sidestepped and Xena froze suddenly. A tree crashed down in front of them and a growling black face of the only 10 foot tall dog was before them.

Chapter Five By Fiona

Meanwhile, from the other side a soprano voice was heard singing,

"Where is that puppy?
Where did he go?
The three headed one
With the waggedly taaaaaail?"

One of Cerberus's heads turned away from the group and swung in the singers direction.

Xena muttered, "That's GOTTA be Aphrodite." to herself, while still keeping an eye on one of the heads towering over them.

Chapter Six By Xena

Argo snorted and backed up. She wanted no part of that dog! Xena whispered some calming words, and the mare settled a little bit, although the whites of her eyes were quite visible.

"That's OK girl, I'm a little leery of that thing myself." Gabrielle patted the golden neck.

Xena took a tentative step forward and spoke low, "Hey...pssst!...Cerberus. Good boy! What a good boy. C'mere!"

"Come here? Are you crazy?" 'Dite's voice chimed in. "He's gonna eat you for a snack!"

"No he won't." Xena returned, never taking her eyes off the three heads that were now riveted on her position. "He knows I mean him no harm." she lay her weapons on the ground. "See boy? I won't hurt you. Now wouldn't you like a scratch behind the ears? Or a nice belly rub?"

Cerberus let out a thunderous bark and tossed a "stick" Xena's way. A stick to that dog, though, was actually a treetrunk and everyone retreated a good way to avoid being crushed by the timber.

"Aphrodite," Xena said, "wouldn't it be a good idea for you to go get your brother so he can come get his dog?"

"What? Oh! Duh! Be right back!" and she disappeared in a shower of sparkles.

Cerberus wagged his tail, effectively knocking over even more trees in his excitement. Xena kept up a steady stream of calming words, and dodged Cerberus' ideas of playtoys. Finally the three headed dog lay down and allowed the warrior to come within petting distance. She was just about to pet one of his heads and start to work her way towards his belly for that all important scratch, and then a crashing of undergrowth was heard and a very familiar voice sounded in the near distance,

"Don't worry! I'm coming to save you, Xena!"

"Oh no!" Gabrielle wailed. "It's Joxer!"

All three heads turned away from Xena, the gentle playful demeanor gone as a deep rumbling growl emanated from the body of the giant dog. Teeth the size of trees glinted as Cerberus snarled.

"Gotta love his timing.." Xena groaned inwardly.

Conclusion by Leonie

Joxer proceeded to toss sticks away from Xena to distract one of Cerberus' heads, however Cerberus hardly took notice as they were more like twigs.

"It's not working Joxer! Get out of the way!" Shouted Gabrielle as she saw a confused and angry look in the beast's eye's.

A look of enlightenment came upon Joxer's face as he shouted to Xena once more, furthering to continue Cerberus' confusion, a rather dangerous situation.

"I"m going to distract him! Then you go do your tickling pressure thingy!" he called to his raven haired friend.

Gabrielle's eye's bugged out suddenly. "No!! Xena's he's gonna sing that song!"

Xena could not help but let her lips curl up at her lover's grimace, she knew the song's words too.

A high pitched squeaky soprano began filtering though the forest...

"He roams through the countryside;
He never needs a place to hide.
With Gabby as his sidekick
Fighting with her little stick,
Righting wrongs and singing songs,
Being mighty all day long
He's Joxer . . . he's Joxer the Mighty!"

Gabrielle began to moan in frustration. "I am not a sidekick!"

"Joxer the Lion-hearted is ready for Action!"

Cerberus had had enough. He didn't want to play fetch anymore. He didn't want to have his ears hurt by the pesky crawly things shouting either. He just wanted to go home and sleep. At least there he was able to be alone in peace and quiet. After all Hades did come down and scratch his ears all the time. Whimpering like the lost puppy he was, Cerberus kneeled down on his forepaws and tried vainly to cover as many ears as he was able.

"Joxer, it's enough. You've... umm tamed him." Xena called out while she stealthily made her way towards the giant Dog.

"Ohhhh . . .
He's Joxer the Mighty,
He's really tidy.
Everybody likes him....."

"But I just got to the good parts!" pouted Joxer. Standing still so as to let Xena 'do her thing'.

Xena was able to move close to Cerberus and began rubbing the side of his belly, urging him to roll over onto his back so she could rub even more. "C'mon boy, you like that. Ooooo what a good boy!" she crooned.

Hades then rolled his chariot up beside Gabrielle and together they watched as Xena got comfy with Cerberus and propped up beside the Giant Three Headed Dog. Softly Xena began singing a lullaby, soothing the beast to sleep.

"Hush now my little one,
Please don't you cry,
Lay your head down,
On my shoulder and sigh
Sun's gone away,
Momma will pray,
Silence will keep
All the while you're asleep."

"Woman of many talents." Hades complimented, never taking his eye's from his pet or his obsession.

"Yes, I'm very lucky." Gabrielle whispered.

All involved were very happy that this particular puppy's tale had a happy ending.