Xena gives just one look... and Gabrielle feels her willpower shatter. One touch and Gabrielle is finished, all debates fall flat. One night... one night of Xena kissing her, just kissing her... Now, Gabrielle cannot think of another, not ever.

For Xena, it is never the same. You cannot contain such a woman... She must be free to roam, to love as she pleases. Gabrielle knew this even when the moment presented itself, even when words of love were spoken... Gabrielle knows that she has Xena’s heart and that she is the only one to have it – just not the only one to have her body.

It drives her mad sometimes, to see Xena go off with someone else on any given night. It drives her to tears sometimes, to have to give Xena a look of understanding as the warrior walks away with another.

On those nights... on this night... Gabrielle walks alone in the woods outside this village, as she does in countless other villages. She keeps going, hoping this feeling will leave her. All hopes must be dashed, though. Gabrielle still wants Xena completely and she knows, one day, the facade will crack. One day, Gabrielle will have to choose – be with Xena and share her? Or let her go?

Of course, Gabrielle thinks this way all the time. And she never lets Xena go. It sounds so damned romantic to her older ears, but it is no less true... She cannot let Xena go. Xena is a part of her now. It would be like cutting off an arm or a leg. Gabrielle would always miss her. And no one could replace her.

Tonight, though... Gabrielle does not go back to camp. She does not tend the fire and she does not keep the place warm for Xena. Not tonight... I can’t do this tonight.

Gabrielle knows she will go back, eventually. Not now, though... not now.

Now, Gabrielle lays down in the dark of the forest and listens to a stream nearby. She breathes in and out, watching the stars spin above. She feels her muscles relax and some of the tension dissipate.

And Gabrielle does not lie to herself, not now. She knows Xena will try to find out where the bard has gone. Xena will worry. Xena will wonder if this day is the last day...

And tonight, I will let her think it.

To Be Continued...

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