Flames dance around a cool night, and Xena is looking at her.

It has become a habit for her, to use a guise of sharpening her blade in order to look at her undetected. She is writing, a look of complete focus and concentration on her face as her quill moves across the scroll. The flame illuminates her hair, casts a shine into her eyes, and makes her entire being ethereal. An illusion sent to Xena to cast out her darkness that killed so many. And if she tries to take this illusion for her own, it will vanish into the air around her.

The fire crackles, and her sword turns sharper and sharper. The stars only glimmer.

Now her quill is risen to her lips. She stares into almost nothing for a moment, before a smile graces her face, and she writes once more. Xena suddenly thinks of the little girl in the village dress, talking her way through the stubborn night. She had naive eyes, always large, and always willing to expect goodness in the world. Time had changed her, of course. Muscles formed on her small body, and her eyes changed. A light still resided in them, but a knowledgeable light. An acceptance of the bad, without letting it consume. Her smile remains almost the same, only a tad of wistfulness added.

Xena wonders when her feelings shifted this much. From feeling annoyed by her presence, to being protective of her, to being her friend; her best friend, to being….what? She had lost her friendship during that dark time, and she had lost part of her soul she had worked so desperately to recover. Darkness clouded her mind, and as she stood holding that beautiful body, that beautiful person, above her over that cliff, she knew she could never tell her.

To being her everything.

How couldn't she have seen it? She was a mother. The birth may have not been like others, but she was a mother all the same. The little girl in the village dress grew up in that short time she held that child. Xena couldn't see the child as anything but the monster she ended up being..but what if? What if she had buried her suspicions of the baby and allowed her to stay? She could have been good, there was always a chance of that. It was to protect her, protect that person who gave her life meaning once more. Who made her life happy once more. Who was her reason for everything.

She will never know who was truly at fault, who had made the selfish choices. Often she figured it to be both.

Xena finishes the sharpening, and as her reflection shines in the blade. She doesn't look at it.

No one enjoys looking at a murderer, after all.

She is looking at her, who suddenly glancing up from her scroll. A smile, different from any of her others glides across her face. Her eyes hold love. Love for her, someone who would never deserve it. As they lock eyes, she has the urge to embrace her, to embrace them, to embrace the destiny they were bound in. To kiss her lips, to feel her soft hair. To run her hands over her arms. To love, and revel in that love.

Xena breaks the gaze.

She doesn't say a word.

The fire is put out. Bedrolls are placed next to each other as per usual, and arms brush together. The moon is bright, everything is bright. It illuminates her face much as the fire did, but with a certain gentleness that one can only see from the moon. They look at each other once more and words are not spoken. She gently brushes with the back of her hand over Xena's cheek.

"'Good night." She whispers. The feel of her hand remains, caressing. It always does.

She turns away from Xena, and Xena knows this will be a sleepless night.