As It Was Meant To Be

Chapter 1

Darkness had long since chased the light of day from the forest depths. Yet deep within the woods a furious battle raged between the ancient rivals as a small fire struggled to hold the night at bay. While the fire controlled the confines of the small campsite, the darkness took every opportunity to slip shadows in and out of its enemy's domain.

Obvious to the hard fought battle taking place around her the small blond haired woman reached for a piece of wood and placed it atop the fire. In response the fire cracked, shooting sparks into the quiet night sky as though mocking it enemy with it's new found strength. Satisfied the young woman sat back to stare at the dancing flames. Imagines of the day's events jumped through her mind as quickly as the flames licked at the log.

So much had happened in the span of a couple of days or had it been hours? Two days has passed during her time in Rome, yet time seemed to have stood still in the real world. 'The real world.' she chuckled silently. 'Is there such thing?' Everything in Rome had felt so real, the play, Alti, the Fates temple. The emotions anger, confusion, fear, relief and love. 'Love.' She thought. 'Yes, definitely love.' All of it was so real and yet here she sat as if nothing had happened. The steady rasp of sword against stone invaded the bard's thoughts. Her attention turned to the large woman seated on the bedroll next to her. Strong fingers drew the stone across the steel in a steady rhythm, with the warrior by her side, nestled deep in the quiet woods she found herself once more questioning the other life.

A yawn came over her and wiping at heavy eyelids she suddenly felt exhausted. For the first time she realized what a heavy toll the day had taken mentally and physically.

Xena looked up and smiled warmly. "Are you alright?"

Gabrielle met her gaze and smiled back. "Yeah, just tried."

"It's been a long day." nodded the warrior.

"You have a gift for understatement." chuckled the bard.

"Maybe we should get some sleep?" offered the warrior.

"Sounds good."

Xena turned away to lay aside her sword and stone.

There was a part of the bard that longed to tell Xena of her feelings, but there seemed to be a reluctance between them to speak of what had happened. Much of the evening had been spend in silence as each woman sooth to sort out the events in Rome.

Packing away her scroll Gabrielle laid down, turning to one side and waited for Xena to get settled. Placing her sword within easy reach the warrior took her place at the bard's back forming to the smaller woman's frame. A strong arm slipped around Gabrielle's waist and she grasped it, finding comfort in that simple gesture. Feeling safe from the outside world Gabrielle allowed herself to slip into Morpheus's realm.