Standard disclaimer: None of the characters, places, etc. in this story are mine, but instead are the property of Universal Studios and Renaissance Pictures. No copyright infringement is intended by their use in this story.

Author's note:This is one of several scraps I wrote several years ago for my "Destiny" series. Originally they were never intended to see the light of day, but when going back through some older files recently I came across them and decided they were worth posting in their own right. This fic is sort of a "one-shot" that describes a single sexual encounter between Gabrielle and Caesar. As my "Destiny" universe finally evolved, I don't consider this fic to be canon; however if it were canon, this fic would have taken place between "Choices" and "Heroes." I hope that wasn't too confusing. Rated T for non-graphically described, semiconsensual sex.

They had stopped in a secluded spot in the woods for the night. There were no settlements, and hence, no inns; Gabrielle had managed to find them a spot covered by deep undergrowth, where they would not be easily seen, and that might offer them shelter from inclement weather. They had said little to each other, as they usually did, simply sharing the evening meal in silence.

It was cold, though. The chill of advancing winter hung in the air; as the temperature dropped, Gabrielle was half convinced that she could see her breath. After the fire had died to embers, they had made their bedrolls next to each other and slept back to back against the cold. Caesar had dropped off quickly; Gabrielle could hear his even breathing beside her. She lay awake. She was thinking about Licinus.

It was only now, as she thought about it, that she realized he had looked like Perdicus, the husband she had had so briefly. In killing him, it was almost as if she had killed her own husband. How could she have done that? Perdicus… Even if Licinus had not been somebody's husband, he had been somebody's son, somebody's brother, friend, lover. It wasn't just him she had killed, she realized; she had hurt the web of people who cared about him. Who depended on him. Her heart was sore within her, as she thought of Licinus.

She shifted restlessly; Caesar's back was warm against hers, his breathing even and regular, somehow soothing. Nevertheless, Gabrielle stewed. It was thanks to this man lying beside her that she had killed Licinus. He had mouthed off to the soldiers in the first place, even though she had told him not to, and had gotten them thrown into prison. His arrogance with the group of refugees certainly hadn't helped, she remembered, and then there was the memory of his contempt of her for not being able to kill Licinus sooner. She had done it for him. And had not gotten so much as a word of understanding. She wondered if he had ever cared about anyone in his life.

Licinus…Perdicus… And Caesar. As she lay there, stewing, an idea came stealthily into her head; once there, it would not be dislodged. She felt his warm back solid against hers, and lay there, turning the idea over and over, thinking of it from all angles. It had been a while, but Gabrielle was no virgin; her single night with Perdicus had been the most joyous experience of her young life. After Perdicus, she had gone to the academy; there had been a few times with Homer, a sweet, gentle youth who reminded her more than a bit of her late husband, and then one night down in the catacombs with an extremely drunk Euripides—wine improved his flowery speech no end. But in all cases, it had been fun…it had never even occurred to her that she could do what she was now contemplating. It might not have, either, if she hadn't seen what Xena was using him for. His strength was a danger, but then there were his mangled legs; if she got into trouble, she could easily kick him in his damaged shins and back away. And then, Argo won't carry him either. And then, on top of it all, was a thread of sudden, intense curiosity about her strange companion. What would he be like….? Everyone they had met always thought they were together….

She rolled onto her side and raised herself on one arm, looking down at him. He was sleeping, but he did not look as if his dreams were pleasant ones; his eyes were closed, his brow furrowed. The moonlight glimmered on his short, dark hair, turning it silver. She could only imagine what his nightmares must be like, and felt a sudden, strange surge of sympathy for him. As she looked down at him in the moonlight, she found herself suddenly admiring the clean lines of his throat and jawline, marred by the pale band of scarring there. Carefully, scarce realizing what she was doing, she reached out to touch him, running her fingertips down the lines of his throat. His breath caught, and she stilled, but he did not open his eyes.

Stop it, Gabrielle. He's going to wake up if you keep this up and then… But she did not stop. His tunic was ragged and rough under her fingers; she slid her hand down his side, searching for the hem. She found it and pulled it up, exposing his chest and belly to her view. His skin was smooth under her touch, soft.

As she traced the curvature of his ribs, he gave a soft grunt and his eyes opened. Gabrielle froze, caught in the act—but he did not react. She felt him tense under her fingertips, but he made no resistance, did not speak to her, did not try to move or push her away. What…?

Since he made no resistance, Gabrielle kept on, running her fingers over the flat plane of his belly, skimming his navel, darting over the musculature there. His breath was uneven, and she could feel the tightness in his body, in his back where she pressed against it, but he did not react in any way. She came to the loincloth at his hips and hesitated, brushing the material with her fingers; she looked down at him, gathering her courage, then tried to slip her hand inside.

His hand clamped around her wrist like iron, pulling her away. He raised himself on his arm, turning toward her; Gabrielle drew back, suddenly afraid. Shadows and light fell across his face; his eyes glimmered like polished obsidian. He glared at her through the twilight.

"You're not Xena."

Gabrielle stared at him for a long moment, then suddenly reacted. Later she would be unable to understand why she had reacted like this, or where the anger had come from; she jerked her arm back, breaking his grip, grabbed him by the shoulders, and using all her strength, shoved him down on his back.

The moment his back hit the ground, he seemed to undergo a kind of transformation. His eyes widened in shock; then as he found her, they narrowed into a look of sheer hatred. But at the same time, the resistance drained out of his body; she felt the tension leave him, and he turned his head away. Gabrielle stared at him in surprise—despite that glare, he could not have surrendered more clearly if he had told her in words. What….? she wondered again.

She stared at him for a long moment, then cautiously began to touch him again, stroking the smooth skin of his chest and stomach, waiting for him to react—either to push her away or to encourage her. He did neither, simply lying still under her caresses, keeping his head turned away, although she saw his jawline tighten and his throat work as he swallowed. Gabrielle continued with what she had been doing; she slid her hands under the material and pulled his loincloth down over his hips, then paused to admire the view. Perdicus had had more, she thought distantly, and so had Homer, though not by much. She reached out to touch him lightly, and she saw his hands clench at his sides, heard his breathing become ragged, but again he made no resistance as she stroked him, skimming him lightly with her fingertips, gently tickling with just the edges of her nails.

Not yet…not yet. She lifted her hand from him and moved lower, sliding her touch down his thighs to his mangled lower legs. They were hideous in the moonlight, she thought, a twisted wreckage of strange lumps and odd edges and corners underneath his pale, moon-silvered skin, and she wondered, not for the first time, how he could bear to walk on them at all. When she laid her touch lightly on his misshapen shin, she heard him gasp, felt him tense in a way that he had not when she had been touching him earlier; she stilled until she heard his breathing resume, and then gently, cautiously began to rub his legs, exploring the damage there with her fingertips. Slowly, as she did that, she felt him relax again; looking back, she saw that he was watching her out of the corner of his eye. Gabrielle continued to gently rub his legs.

After a moment, he raised himself on his arms, watching her. That anger, that resentment, had not left his eyes, but now there was something else there too—puzzlement, perhaps. Gabrielle kept an eye on him, continuing to work, keeping her hands near the most prominent bone ridges—if he tried anything she didn't like, she thought, she would squeeze down on one of them as hard as she could.

Then he did something that startled her—he reached out, took one of her hands, and pulled it away from his leg, placing it where it had been before, then leaned back on his arms, looking at her. Gabrielle stared at him, trying to figure out why he had done it; he did not look like he wanted her to touch him there. If anything, far from being one of pleasure, his expression seemed to convey almost—resignation. Sullen resignation. What…. Unsure, her hand began to move on him. He was responding to her touch, his body tightening, his breath growing uneven; she still saw that anger and resentment in his dark eyes but now it was matched with something else that she could not quite name. Somehow, she realized, it was exciting her too. Beautiful, she realized suddenly. His eyes are beautiful…. The scarring at his throat stood out very pale and visible in the moonlight.

He hissed through his teeth, and Gabrielle pulled up her skirt, moving her clothing out of the way. As she mounted him, that nameless emotion she had seen in his eyes grew stronger; he began to tremble, a light shaking like an aspen leaf in the breeze. She gripped him with her knees, then suddenly it was her turn to gasp in shock as his arms came up and around her, pulling her hard against him and trapping her against his chest. She tried to push him away in reflex, but he was not letting her go; his trembling was growing worse, and she felt him bury his face against her shoulder. He was holding her so tightly it hurt, and she could have sworn she felt moisture through the fabric of her top. His body shook with something that might have been a choked sob. Hesitantly, her arms crept around his back.

"It's….It's okay," she whispered as they moved together, not sure if it was even the right thing to say. "It's going to be okay, you know, it really is…."

"Shut up." The words were muffled against her skin. "It's not. It's—" He gasped as he reached his climax. "It's not," he repeated, as they rocked gently in the aftermath.

She knew better than to argue with him. "I'm sorry," she said only.

"Sorry." His voice was thick and muffled against her shoulder, but she could still hear the real venom in it. "Shut up. You don't know anything, stupid girl." His arms tightened around her hard, hurting. "You don't know anything about anything." The words were almost a snarl.

She said nothing.

He lifted his head from her shoulder and looked at her. His dark eyes glimmered. He shoved her off him, hard enough to send her sprawling backward to the dirt; she caught herself on her arms and got her legs under her, ready to jump to her feet and run if he tried anything. He did not, simply glaring at her.

"Don't touch me." So saying, he rolled onto his side, straightening his clothing and turning his back to her. The tight set of his shoulders walled her out. After a moment, uncertainly, Gabrielle lay down again in her place. When her back pressed against his, he pulled away from her. She shivered, starting to feel sick, possibly even ashamed of her actions. And at the same time guilty, for she had enjoyed it. She wanted to speak, to say something to make it be all right again—at least, as all right as it had been —but had no idea what to say.

What had she done to him?

The next night, they slept on opposite sides of the fire.