The handsome man looked nervous.
"Perdicus Darnay is accused of treason. We bring him forward," a judge announced. Darnay stepped forward, extremely confused on what he did wrong.
The trial began.
"This man is a spy - a spy against people like us! We can't let him get off with this!" a lawyer argued, beginning the case. His face was turned toward the people of the Old Bailey courtroom, not the witnesses nor the jury part of the crowd. The lawyer, Joxer, had something up his sleeve that he was a little nervous about.
"I have a witness that says he saw Perdicus on the boat. I present Salmoneus Barsad," Carton announced. The crowd murmured. Carton asked his usual questions, and the crowd made no reaction. Joxer knew Barsad was a spy.
"I would like to cross-examine the witness," another lawyer spoke up after Joxer was through grilling Barsad. The crowd whispered within their groups. The defense attorney, Iolaus Stryver, stood up to ask the witness questions.
"What is your occupation?" Iolaus asked.
"Can't say much," Salmoneus fiddled with the buttons on his costly jacket.
"Where do you live?"
"On some property."
"Where is that property?"
The crowd hissed and booed the witness, and a few cheered on Iolaus. Iolaus sucked this in, his head growing bigger by the second. He eyed Joxer. Joxer worked for Iolaus, and so far, their plan was going perfectly. They both were for the release of Perdicus. Joxer had to do this secretly.
Hey, like it was said before - there was a lot of corruption.
The court let Barsad sit down again, and called Gabrielle Manette to the stand.
Looking angry, Gabrielle made eye contact with Stryver.
"Have you seen the accused?" Iolaus asked.
"Yes. I saw the man—" Gabrielle was interrupted.
"Say the prisoner, if you please," the judge corrected. Gabrielle sighed and counted to ten under her breath.
"I was the prisoner on a boat with my mother, a friend of the family, and myself, on the way to England," Gabrielle said honestly.
"On the way to England? From France? Is he a Frenchman?"
"Yes—I mean no! I mean—what was he doing wrong?" Gabrielle was frustrated.
"Exactly! What was wrong with that?"
Gabrielle was confused.
"I call upon Salmoneus Barsad again!" Iolaus said, his heart racing. The plan was about to peak.
The crowd murmured, but all Iolaus heard was his heart in his ears.
Salmoneus took the stand again, looking slightly tense.
"If you were to see the prisoner, Perdicus Darnay, once again, would you recognize him?" Iolaus asked.
"Yes! Well, probably," Salmoneus added.
"You wouldn't mistake him for, oh, him, over there?" Iolaus pointed to Joxer, who was sitting with a crowd. Joxer Carton stood up. The resemblance towards Carton and Darnay was incredible. The crowd cheered and stood up, ready for Salmoneus' answer.
"Uh, I suppose…" Barsad said, hesitating. It was a good thing he already got paid for this.
The crowd was in an uproar, some laughing, some jeering. Perdicus Darnay grinned as Gabrielle Manette ran up to him, laughing and hugging him, relieved for everything to be all right.
Joxer Carton stood where he was. The only silent one there, watching the beautiful blond woman hug the man he just defended. Carton wondered when things would get better.
Carton sucked it in, adjusted his coat, and walked up to Darnay and the Manettes.
"Thank you very much," Perdicus was the first to notice Carton, and shook his head with both of his own. Carton politely smiled back, in reality thinking bad things about the man Gabrielle seemed she was attracted to.
Gabrielle looked at Joxer and kissed him on the cheek.
"I appreciate it, as well," Miss Manette said, almost blushing. Carton came pretty close to doing so, too.
"Would you like to go get something to eat?" Perdicus suggested.
"No. But I would like to get something to drink," Joxer said, taunting the man in secrecy.
As they walked out of the courtroom, Xena stayed a few yards behind. She felt underneath one of her lady jackets and muff. She sighed with relief. Her chakrum was still in place.
"I don't like you very much," a drunken Joxer said, laughing. Waving his glass of wine in the air, he continued to splash it everywhere.
Everyone had left the bar except for Perdicus and Joxer. Otherwise, the local tavern was near empty.
"Tell me, what do you think of me?" Joxer quipped to the silent Perdicus.
Perdicus hesitated before answering.
"I cannot say anything against you, sir. You saved my life, and for that, I am grateful," Perdicus said.
Carton snickered. "Right."
The waiter approached the table. "Will there be anything else?" he asked politely, hoping that the drunken man would leave.
"Depends who's paying," Joxer laughed, spilling his wine again.
"Please, allow me to pay for this," Perdicus pleaded.
"Then, I'd like another bottle of your most expensive wine," Carton giggled, hiccuping.
Perdicus nodded toward the waiter, gave him some money, and left the tavern.
Carton sat still, and all was quiet. He put his head on the table, waiting for his wine. And for yet another time in his life, he cried and felt sorry for himself.
He knew he was jealous of Perdicus, but he couldn't feel hate toward Gabrielle for loving Perdicus. Carton knew that he had no chance with the lovely lady.
Joxer cried enough that night to fill up his wine glass.
It was the next evening, and he was talking about Gabrielle Manette's beauty.
"She isn't just pretty…" Iolaus Stryver began, thinking of the end of his sentence. His chin was raised, and was proud as ever. He was convinced that Gabrielle was attracted to him. After all, he had helped her with saving Perdicus…
"She isn't pretty," Joxer shook his head, partially distracted with his own daydreaming. "She is like a golden doll. She is beautiful, and fragile, and her heart belongs to only one man."
With this statement, Iolaus stuck out his chest and rubbed his chin smugly. "I bet Perdicus is jealous of me."
The night began as a boring one. Darnay and Gabrielle had arranged a dinner together, after they had gone to Sunday services.
At the Manette's house in Soho, the rain poured onto the roof shingles like feet pounding their way into the house, and into the Manette's lives.
A knock on the door caused Xena to rise to her feet, walking towards the door. She still was not used to Atalanta doing the "hard work" for everyone.
"Mr. Carton! How lovely to see you this evening!" Xena's speech was coming back better and better everyday. Joxer bowed respectively.
"I am here to speak with Miss Manette," Joxer said abruptly, smiling kindly at Xena.
"She is right here," Xena said, only slightly confused. She had a clue on what was going on between the two.
Five years had passed since Darnay and Gabrielle had met. Carton and Gabrielle had become extremely close friends, and Darnay had grown more attached to the blond lady. Still, Carton was almost jealous.
"You wanted to speak with me?" Gabrielle prompted the now-sober man outside, the door shut quietly behind them.
"Well, I actually just wanted to say hello, because I haven't spoken to you in a while," Joxer blushed slightly, and shoved his hands in his pockets.
Gabrielle smiled. "Two days," she giggled. "You always make me laugh, Joxer. You make Atalanta laugh, too, which is pretty hard to do. For some reason, Mother likes your personality better than Darnay's - even though I've told my mother the news already."
Joxer forced a smile, knowing not to take Gabrielle's comment to heart. Perdicus had been talking about marriage, and Xena was still considering allowing her only child his hand in marriage. Not one person had a clue why she was so hesitant.
"I also wanted to tell you something slightly important… I want to get it off my chest," Joxer let out a huge breath.
Gabrielle nodded slowly.
"I want you to know that I care about you - a lot," Joxer began, taking his hat off.
Gabrielle held her breath for the worst. She cared about Joxer, too, but sometimes being around him made her feel guilty.
"I am willing to do anything for you or anyone you love. You understand that, right?" Carton's voice cracked, his eyes watering from the feeling and the chilly breeze blowing throughout the mansion's columns.
Gabrielle nodded, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
"Thank you. Thank you so much, Joxer."
Somehow, she understood.
"I have just gotten back from talking to Monseigneur," Ares said shortly as he climbed in his carriage. He constantly had to explain his bad mood.
His servants nodded and shut the door behind their master.
The horse and carriage raced through the streets of France. Children and women screamed as they rushed to get out of its path.
Some men tried to block it with their own weapons, and then thought better of it.
The carriage didn't pause until an obstacle got in its way. A child.
The father ran up to the motionless child in the middle of the road. "Please! Wake up!" the man named Malen looked up at Ares with hate. Ares looked out the window.
"You commoners and peasants are always in my way! If you move, this kind of incident wouldn't happen!" Ares didn't flinch. He had a heart of stone, and some people said that if anyone tried to kill him, his heart wouldn't matter - it had already stopped beating.
Malen kept staring at Ares with eyes full of hatred. "You'll pay!" he screamed as the carriage started to pull away. The crowd started jeering at the aristocrat, and some rushed to help the dizzy father. Blood covered his body.
Ares threw a handful of coins out the window, signaling his position in their life. Without him, he thought, they would be even less.
He was surprised when the coins were thrown back.