Sense of Humor by Della Street

High-pitched laughter carried over to their table again, and Xena stiffened. Her jaw clenched almost painfully as she glared once again at the offending couple.

"Sounds like they're having a good time," the mayor remarked. He eyed the warrior's plate, unconsciously licking his lips. No one in Capii could resist Milla's world-famous pheasant, but the warrior had hardly touched hers.

"Yeah, well, I wish we didn't all have to have it with them," Xena groused. She focused again on the jerk in the corner seated backwards on a chair at the far table, talking to the most beautiful woman Xena had ever seen. The area was dark -- how convenient -- but Xena could make out Pretty Boy's billowing, long-sleeved white shirt, not a speck of dirt to be seen on it, tucked prissily into pitch-dark trousers. Did this guy work for a living? "Who's the loudmouth, anyway?"

"Which one?" her dinner companion asked lazily.

Xena's eyes narrowed, and the mayor suddenly remembered that one half of the pair in the corner had ridden into town with the warrior this afternoon. "Oh, of course--him." Myos shrugged. "Some travelling performer. He warmed up the crowd before your friend told her stories. Calls himself a comedian."

Another shriek emanated from the corner table, and Xena's nostrils flared dangerously. Usually she liked the sound of Gabrielle's laughter, but for some reason it was really getting on her nerves tonight. Enough was enough. The scrape of the warrior's chair as she pushed it away from the table sounded especially ominous to the mayor's ears.

"Xena!" Gabrielle smiled at the unexpected appearance of her friend. "This is Erric. He tells jokes."

The young man stood and, uncertain as to protocol with this . . . person . . ., finally settled on the 'potential father-in-law' approach. Never hurts to be optimistic, he decided with a grin. He held out his hand to the new arrival.

"Really." Xena made no effort to return the gesture. "You're a funny guy, huh?"

Technically, yes, that was a legitimate definition of comedian, Erric agreed, but somehow it didn't sound quite right the way she said it.

"Want me to tell you a joke?" The warrior's voice was low.

Erric swallowed. "Um, sure."

"Right," Gabrielle chortled. "The Warrior Princess is gonna tell a joke. She's a real side-splitter." Gabrielle laughed at her own unintentional quip, and picked up her mug for another sip of whatever she was drinking.

Xena's gaze locked with the nervous comedian's. "What's black" -- she let her eyes drift to his trousers -- "and white" -- she took in the pristine blouse -- "and red all over?"

Erric's eyes widened.

"Pff," Gabrielle snorted. "That's an old one, Xena. A scroll!"

Xena's stare burned into the young man. His eyes travelled down to the fingers on her right hand, which curled slowly into a fist. "I have a different PUNCH line in mind," Xena murmured.

"Uh . . . sorry, Gab, gotta run!" The comedian whooshed by her and was out the door before Gabrielle could reply.

"Gee, that's funny . . . ," the bard said quizzically.

"Yeah, it is." Xena smiled to herself.


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