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the facts are pure fabrication from my part (as based on my high school knowledge of ancient Roman history, so put down yer pitchforks)
Gift of Gods (completed)
Rome, 2nd century BC ,
"Only human. You are only human." His Thracian slave whispered in his ear.
Loud , so loud were the resounding words amid the ovations of the Roman crowd.
Triumphant, but still only a man.
He was no God. Christopher laughed to himself throwing his head back, feeling the rose petals on his face.
No, he was no God but today he certainly felt like one.
On the steps of the Senate his father stood waiting; great Gaius Sextus Pallio welcoming his victorious son. Christopher smiled recognizing his tall figure.
"Only human." His slave whispered yet again. "Remember that. Nothing but a human."
Soft evening breeze carried the sweet scent of oleander through the garden.
Leaning against the wall still warm from the August sun and burying his head in his hands Chris sighed heavily. For the first time in months he was not sitting by a camp fire with his sword lying on the ground before him. His body was still aching though, his numerous wounds making themselves known with every breath he took.
"Gods." He groaned gazing at the stars over his head.
He was pleading, begging, yes, but for what?
Yet another heavy sigh escaped him.
Damn if he knew.
And that's when he saw him; a beguiling apparition stepping out of the shadows.
His bare feet made no sound, his breath was soft. His lithe body was covered only with subligar (loincloth), a golden torque around his neck revealing his origin.
Moving with easy grace he went on one knee before him, his blonde head bowed, his outstretched hands offering a golden cup.
"Your father thought some wine will do you good, master."
That mellifluous voice, so quiet, hardly above a whisper, made his heart leap, and his groin twinge.
"Who are you?" His own voice sounded strained.
"Tobias, master. I belong to you." came the answer, young man's eyes still downcast, veiled by golden eyelashes.
"You belong to me. " Chris made no attempt to conceal his smirk. "My, my..."
Clasping his hands around Toby's, enjoying the feel of his warm skin, Chris took the offered cup and brought it to his lips, his eyes fixed on Toby. Interesting.
As the rich liquid touched Chris' lips Toby raised his head; naked hate Chris saw in those beautiful blue eyes bringing a sardonic smile to his face. Very interesting.
So that 's the great Christopher. Victorious Christopher. Toby thought gliding softly through the shadows, eyeing the tall handsome man surreptitiously.
Rome came, Rome saw, Rome conquered. Once again.
Hearing him sigh heavily, Toby smiled, something wicked gleaming in his blue eyes.
Misery loves company.
Sliding out of the shadow, reveling in the feel of the warm marble under his bare feet, Toby went to him.
Coming down on his knee he offered him some wine.
He could feel his gut clenching as the arrogant, deep voice asked for his name.
Hating every single letter that slid of his mouth Toby gave it to him. Tobias. A slave. Hating him even more Toby hoped he choked on that wine.
,,Your father asks for you, master." Labekah, one of his Nubian slaves, said bowing her head in a graceful move. "Your gusest are already here."
"Thank you, Labekah." He gave her a smile, his dark blue eyes raking over her voluptuous figure, sensing Toby's look on him all he while.
Lazy grin spreading over his face Chris downed the rest of his wine. Handing the chalice back to Toby he murmured a low "Later", flicking the tip of his tongue between his teeth with the initial `l'.
Dark look flashed in Toby's eyes, his golden head bowed down, and his body coiled tight, his hand trembling in anger at the sound of Chris's soft laughter.
Closing his eyes Toby swallowed back his anger. With a heavy sigh escaping his lungs he got up, squeezing the chalice in his hand; his knuckles growing pale. "Later." he whispered.
His eyes fixed on Chris' retreating back Toby stifled a curse. He lifted his eyes to the sky; a familiar sky by now. It's been over a year since he had been dragged to the market at Massilia, sold and put on Rome bound ship.
Massilia, Ostia, Rome, thousands of leagues from home.
That made him laugh. What did he know about home?
"Tobias?" Marion placed a warm hand on his shoulder, startling him." Where were you just now?" she asked gazing lovingly into his eyes.
"Here," he smiled wryly," Where else?"
Hours later with most of his guests gone, soft sounds of Greek lyre filling his ears, Christopher lounged on a triclinium, his dark head resting against Labekah's breasts as she carded a gentle hand through his short hair. Sweet wine coursed through his veins.
Feeling sated, but unsatisfied Chris chuckled at a joke his father was telling.
Gnaeus's roaring laugh made him laugh even harder.
Lovely, beautiful Gnaeus. Chris smiled to himself. His best friend. His oldest friend.
Caressing that hard lithe body with fond eyes Chris sighed heavily at the memory that flashed through his mind.
Choking on his wine, Germanicus, Gnaeus's lover, snorted some of it through a nose, bringing Chris abruptly back to the here and now.
Wine and spit trickling down his chin the young man bent double, laughing hard.
Placing a gentle hand around his shoulders Gnaeus chided his lover, rich timbre of his voice making Chris' skin tingle.
"Tobias!" Chris called out noticing the tall blonde. "Come here."
Toby's long lithe figure moved in hushed, ice-clean trance, his blue eyes gazing defiantly into the sapphire blue ones.
Stopping in front of Chris Toby bowed his head in a reluctant move.
With a slight nod of his head and a lazy smile tugging at his lips Chris motioned to him, ordering him to kneel.
Blue eyes locked to his.
Toby went on bended knee, every lean muscle of him trembling with suppressed emotions.
"Yes, master." He spat out the words.
Reaching for him Chris curved his hand down the supple shoulders and back, lingering over the firm ass. Leaning in, his mouth inches from Toby's ear, Chris whispered in a husky voice." Clean this." he pointed to a small puddle of wine, Germanicus's spit and vomit on the floor.
Toby's eyes glazed over." Yes, master." He squeezed the words through clenched teeth, rising up to his feet, and making as if to leave.
"Uh-huh-huh." Chris got up stopping him, stepping close, and crowding him.
"Take this off." He pulled at Toby's tunica.
Blue eyes snapped up at him. "What?" Toby gasped.
"Take this off," Chris repeated, slowly, as if to a child, "and clean....that...up."
Germanicus snorted, still laughing. Gnaeus leaned back on a triclinium, grazing over the lithe body of the Celt with knowing eye.
"Well?" Chris drawled, challenge sparkling in the sapphire blue eyes.
He knew what he was asking of him, subjugating him like so.
Biting back the curse, his lips drawn into a thin line, his jaw clenched, Toby slowly raised his hands to take his tunica off, revealing the lean sculptured torso.
Gazing at Toby going down on his knees to clean the mess, soft little curls clustered at the nape of the man's graceful nape, Chris felt his heart sinking. "Enough." He squeezed the words through the gritted teeth. "Leave us." He said dismissing him.
Golden head stayed down, bowed in shame.
Toby couldn't bear the man seeing his eyes, filled with angry tears. "Yes, master." His voice was a low, strained whisper.
Chris's dark glower followed his retreating figure, noticing the stiffness of his beautiful naked back, and the clenched fists.
"This one is a keeper." Gnaeus winked offering him more wine.
"Yeah." Chris mumbled downing the whole glass in one big gulp.
Standing alone in the dark of his room, the pale light of the rising sun still just an afterthought Chris buried his face into his hands, rubbed them over his eyes, a sad lost look etched on his face.
,,Fuck." He cursed under his breath.
Going to the door he janked it open calling out for one of his slaves."Nola!"
A young Tracian boy's dark curly head peeped from behind the sttatue of Venus.
"Yes, master." Nola ran down the corridor.
He was sitting in his cubiculum, alone, in the dark, his gaze empty, the feeling of despair and anger so strong in him making it difficult for him to breathe.
"Tobias." Nola's soft voice woke him from his stupor. "Master Christopher wants to see you."
"Why!" he snarled.
Nola shrugged his shoulders. "Now, Tobias." He said and he was gone.
"Now." Toby drawled sarcastically getting up from his bed. "Yes, master, right away master."
Walking into Christopher's chambers Toby noticed the dark man standing by a window, with his back turned.
"Master, you wanted to see me? "He asked in a hushed voice.
The dark man remained silent.
"Master?" Toby stood by the door, confused.
The awkward silence dragged on. The sun climbed the horizon. Soft morning breeze murmured through the leaves.
"I need a bath." Chris drawled in a gravelly voice finally turning to Toby. His dark blue eyes raked the lean figure of the Gaul, finally reaching the summer sky eyes that gazed back, defiantly.
"Yes, master." Toby drawled, his heart hammering in his chest.
As the white cotton of a subligar slid off Chris' narrow hips revealing the man's glorious body Toby could not restrain a gasp.
White teeth flashing in a wicked smile Chris turned to face him.
Trying not to stare at the man's `asset', but somehow failing miserably....over and...over again, Toby felt himself blushing. He closed his eyes.
Never before was another man's penis source of such fascination to him. He closed his eyes.
Taking a few steps forward Chris was now standing right in front of him, his breath warm against his cheek.
,,Sabra oil." He murmured dangling a small gold rimmed flask in his hand.
Startled, Toby opened his eyes and met Chris'; a dark eyebrow quirked in a challenge.
"No." Toby shook his head backing towards the door. "No fucking way."
"No?" Chris cocked his head to a side, sapphire blue eyes glinting.
Toby stopped, holding Chris' eyes, his brows furrowing, lips drawn in a determined line. "No." he whispered.
Chris' laughter ricocheted of the marble walls as he turned around and stepped into the warm water. "Send Labekah in." he drawled going under.
Standing at his post in front of Chris' chambers Toby tried not to listen to the sounds coming from within. He tried. Closing his eyes he leaned against the wall, Chris' guttural moans' mixing with Labekah's pleasured cries making his pulse race.
Images of Chris' hard sculptured body crackled through his mind. Blood rushed to his groin making him gasp in painful realization.
That man, that arrogant, vain man! A man. Gods!
He needed to get out of there.
Walking away, almost running, almost running into Nola, Toby got out into the garden.
Leaning against a column, resting his hands against his thighs he struggled to draw some air into his lungs.
"Tobias? What's wrong?" came a worried quarry.
Marion's pleasant face, lovely, sweet face was the last thing he wanted to see, but there she was, looking at him, worried.
"Nothing." He mumbled turning away from her. "Nothing.........really."
"Tobias....."She crooned reaching for him.
"Don't!" he snapped impatiently, walking away from her. Running away, actually.
First punch slit his lip open. Warm blood gushed from his nose at the second one. He slid down to his knees, bent double in pain.
"I don't take no for an answer." Chris whispered in a biting cold voice. "You hear me..... Tobias?" he said tangling his fingers in the golden curls, pulling at them hard to lift Toby's face to his.
Holding the Gaul's blue eyes, the look in those eyes making his heart ache, Chris snarled. "Your ass, Tobias, belongs to me."
Laying on his stomach, trying not to move his battered and bloodied body too much Toby laughed, the sound of his manic chuckle eerie in the still.
His life was over. It ended over a year ago on the slopes of Alesia.
He should have died then. He should have cried then.
He lifted an angry hand to his eyes to wipe the tears off.
"Tobias..."came Marion's soft voice.
"Leave me alone."
"Your wounds..." she started," someone should..."
"Do what you want." He mumbled closing his eyes.
From that day on Toby fell silent.
He did what he was told, and nothing more. He moved in a kind of hushed trance, as a wounded animal awaiting the final blow, begging for it as a matter of fact; the look in his eyes, the one of defeatist resignation, driving Chris mad.
The sun was low on a horizon, its rays glinting of Chris' sweating body. His heavy sword collided with Gnaeus's.
"Someone's been practicing." Chris said grinning wide.
"Fuck off.!" Gnaeus huffed.
"Meow." Deceptively lazy smile spread over Chris' face. His fist crackled through air in a mean left hook. Gnaeus was down.
Laying on the ground and breathing hard Gnaeus rubbed his aching chin. "You're a bastard, you know that?" he shook his head laughter dancing in his eyes.
"C'mon, get up." Chris chuckled offering him a hand.
"Fuck you." Gnaeus mumbled slapping his hand off. "Fucker" he huffed getting up.
Still laughing Chris turned and stopped, noticing Toby. Their eyes locked. Chris' breath was coming hard from his exertions, his heart was pounding, yet it managed to skip a beat or two.
Strange fire appeared in Toby's eyes, his pale face coloring with a tinge of pink.
"Gaius Paronis offered 1000 talents for your Gaul." Gnaeus drawled.
"He's not for sale." Chris squeezed the word out holding Toby's eyes." And he's an Arvene. Tell him he can have her." He jerked his chin towards Marion who was just pouring him some wine.
Before Gnaeus or anybody could react Toby rushed forward grabbing a discarded sword.
Two more steps brought him to Chris. In a clean precise move he slashed Chris' side.
Chris bent double with a painful moan, the chalice slipping from his hand, the wine and his blood staining the ground red.
Marion screamed. Gnaeus yelled for help rushing to Chris.
Stepping back, letting the sword fall to the ground, his eyes riveted to the gushing wound in Chris' side, Toby let out a victorious howl. His voice broke down in a groan under the numerous blows that assailed him.
"Don't hurt him!" Chris bellowed, his face contorted in pain. "Don't you dare hurt him!"
"Where is he?" Chris asked sitting up in his bed, and leaning back against the pillows.
"In the hole, master." Nola said picking up the pieces of bloodied gauze from the floor, taking the water basin and Chris' bloodied tunica and subligar out of the room.
"With your permission, master." With a bow he left the room.
"He should be put down." Gnaeus drawled from his place at the windowsill.
Gnaeus slanted him a peeved look.
"That's not your business." Chris' sapphire blue eyes glinted dangerously.
"Chris, what are you doing?"
Chris' mouth quirked in a smile, the one that never reached his eyes. "As I said, that's none of your fucking business."
His breath was coming hard. Blood and sweat, his blood and his sweat, trickled down his face. With every step he took his ring armour and his heavy shield grew heavier. Squeezing his sword in his hand he kept climbing, every muscle in his body screaming at him to stop, just stop. But that was not an option. To stop meant to accept defeat.....and slavery, so he kept going.
Sudden pain crackled through him. His breath left him on a gasp. A heavy roman spear tore his side. His knees buckled and he was down.
A manic chuckle escaped him. Defeated. A slave. Leaning on his sword he tried to get up to his feet. Another blow, to his head this time, brought darkness.
He woke with a start. The room was dark, a weak ray of light coming through a crack in a wall. Moaning in pain he tried to get up. The floor was cold beneath his naked back. Cold and wet, either from his blood or piss, maybe both, he could not tell.
Taking a deep breath, bringing with it into his lungs the pungent stench that made him gag, he started to vomit-stomach acid and water, nothing more. He hasn't been eating well for days. His ribs hurt like hell.
Wiping his mouth off with his hand he leaned back against the wall, weak whimper escaping him. He was alive.
That meant Christopher was alive.
He groaned closing his eyes against the dark. The fucker was alive.
His body shook with hysteric laughter. Tears streamed down his face. With a moan he buried it into his hands.
Mumbling the words of a prayer he thanked his gods for that gift.
Putting one foot in front of the other Toby advanced reluctantly down a hall towards Chris' chambers.
Pausing in the doorway he noticed him standing by a window with his back turned. He cleared his throat.
"You wanted to see me?"
Turning around to face him Chris drawled." Yes , come on in. Close the door."
Going over to a chair, sitting down he pulled at his tunica, taking it off.
,,I need help with this." He said pressing a hand over the bandaged wound.
,,Ointments and gauze are over there." He jerked his chin towards a table, his voice low, something strange dancing in the stormy blue eyes, something a lot like tenderness, and ....apprehension.
Trying for nonchalance he did not even remotely possess Toby went to the table taking the bandages.
,,How are you?" came Chris' gravelly whisper.
His breath escaping him on a loud huff Toby turned to him. ,,How am I?" his brows furrowed. He shook his head, incredulous. ,,What are you doing?" he sighed.
Angling his head just a bit, his lips curving in a barely there smile Chris shrug his shoulders. ,,'Don't know." He said, his eyes kind of sad.
Stepping to him, reaching to undo the bandages, keeping his eyes downcast all the while, Toby mumbled: ,,You don't know."
He reached over Chris' shoulder to get to his back, his cheek now dangerously close to Chris'. Leaning in Chris placed a hand on Toby's waist, his eyes on Toby's face.
Toby tried to ignore the piercing stare; his feigned calm bellied by the tinge of pink coming to his face.
Taking a step back he dropped the used bandages in a wash basin.
"You heal quickly." He said, his own voice sounding strange to him.
"It was a clean cut." Chris shrugged his shoulders. "You're good with the sword. "He said holding Toby's eyes.
"Yeah." Toby huffed, his gaze unwavering. "Luckily for you, not that good."
"Oh, c'mon Tobias, if you wanted me dead I would've been dead." Chris drawled winking playfully.
Toby let out one of his incredulous huffy breaths.
"You don't know that." He said, his voice low, his face set.
"Yes, I do." Chris whispered.
Blinking lazily he curved his lips in a smile, a guarded, almost shy smile.
Holding Chris' eyes Toby took two steps forward to kneel in a graceful move in front of him.
Lifting a hand he reached for him, touching the wound in Chris' side with trembling fingers; the feel of Chris' warm skin under his touch making his stomach flip sort of funny. Lifting his eyes to meet Chris' he leaned in, his lips touching the wound in reverence, his head swimming, his heart racing, adrenalin coursing up his spine.
Chris tangled his fingers in Toby's golden curls, his breath leaving him on a whimper, his head thrown back.
"I never wanted to hurt you." He whispered his throat tight." You made me want to hurt you."
"Shhhh...." Toby pressed his lips to Chris' skin, feeling the muscles quiver under his gentle touch. "Don't speak...." Showering him with small kisses Toby worked his way up that magnificent torso and the strong column of Chris' neck, nuzzling his ear, murmuring against it. "Come on, kiss me...."
Scooting back a little Chris looked him straight in the eye, his fingers still tangled in the curls at the back of Toby's head, caressing lightly, lovingly.
Tugging at him Chris crushed his lips against his, kissing him desperately, hungrily, hard, his hand sliding down Toby's graceful, perfect neck to grab at his shoulder, tightly, feeling the muscles and bone, and skin, Toby's perfect creamy skin.
His hungry tongue plunging into Toby's welcoming mouth, he slid his hand lower, over the swell of Toby's pectoral muscle, thumbing a nipple, feeling it getting hard, feeling Toby's heart hammering against his chest.
A knock at the door brought it all to a sudden stop.
Toby leaped to his feet, went to the table grabbing some gauze , fumbling with the ointments, his face flushed, his hands trembling, stunned look in his eyes.
Gloom spreading over his face, his eyes never leaving Toby, Chris growled an impatient
" Come in..."
"Master...." Nola said, his head bowed," your father wants to see you. He says it's urgent."
Chris nodded in acknowledgement, his eyes still on Toby,
Bowing once more Nola went away.
Rising from his seat Chris watched in silence as Toby prepared the bandages for him.
Stepping close, his eyes downcast, Toby mumbled. "Raise your hands."
He worked in silence, his moves calm, efficient."
"There." He turned to grab Chris' tunica. "Put this on." He said handing it to him.
Lifting a corner of his mouth in a little smile Chris took the garment from him.
"Tobias..." he purred," look at me."
Raising his head Toby met his eyes.
"Baby...," Chris smiled leaning in, whispering in hi ear," this isn't over." His hand crept up Toby's inner thigh to cup his balls. "Not for a long shot." he said, squeezing lightly.
Closing his eyes Toby let out a huffy breath. When he opened his eyes Chris was gone.
Never in his life was he so perfectly, so thoroughly tongue fucked.
Smiling with glee Toby hooked his hands behind his head. He sighed lifting his eyes to the sky.
"You look well." Labekah said stepping down the steps of the peristyle, carrying a heavy jug.
"Let me help you with that." He offered. Taking the jug from her, trying to sound casual Toby asked about Marion.
Leveling him with a `what-are you stupid?' look Labekah droned. "Sold. The next day." She shrugged her shoulders. "Don't worry, she'll be fine."
Putting the jug down Toby gave her a weak smile. "Yeah, of course."
"You should get ready."
Toby frowned." For?"
"Master's leaving for Messina today. Get your stuff. Apparently, you are coming with him."
The insistent rhythm of a drum propelled oars through the water.
Standing on board ship Toby breathed in the cool sea air.
In a distance he could clearly make out the shore and the harbor of Messina with fishing boats and seagulls crowding the entrance, trade boats carrying wine and olive oil berthed two and three abreast.
The sun was still low on the horizon. Leaning against the railing Toby was looking into a deep blue sea pensively, playing absentmindedly with the copper bangle on his left wrist.
,,Take it off." Came a soft whisper.
Angling his head Toby looked at Chris standing beside him now, and then turned his head away looking straight ahead again.
,,You don't have to wear it anymore. I don't want you to." Chris whispered.
,,I still belong to you." Toby mumbled frowning, slightly pouting his lower lip. ,,Nothing has changed."
,,Yes, you belong to me." Came the assertion. Leaning in Chris grabbed him by an arm. ,,Look at me." He demanded. ,,Look at me."
With a huff Toby turned to look at him.
,,Toby..."gazing deeply into his eyes Chris murmured," take it off."
His breath leaving him on an incredulous huff Toby shook his head, and smiled.
Blinking lazily, his white teeth flashing in a sultry smile Chris purred." On second thought, take it all off."
A cackling laugh escaping him Toby gave his head another shake, the look in his eyes whispering of a later, though.
,,You know," Toby said, propped on his elbow, looking at Chris, running his fingers over his upper arm in a light caress, "you were wrong."
"Huh?" Chris scooted back a little, frowning, puzzled.
"That day, you told your friend I was an Averne." Toby said raising his eyes to Chris'.
"Actually, I'm a member of the Alloborgi tribe." He drawled, his face set, his lower lip just a bit pouty.
"Noble hostage." Chris murmured in realization, leaning in, and cupping Toby's clean shaven cheek.
"My noble savage." He chuckled running his thumb gently over Toby's lips.
"Fuck you." Toby growled, tugging at him, crushing his lips against Chris'.
"Like I said-," Chris chuckled, murmured against Toby's lips," savage."
He yelped as Toby grabbed him- flipping him over on his back, straddling him, grinding his crotch against his.
Gasping, closing his eyes, a wide grin spreading over his lips Chris breathed. "Fuck, do that again."
"Manners, manners...." Toby humped him again.
"Fuck the manners." Chris groaned, throwing his head back, chuckling as he felt Toby's hot lips against his skin, Toby trailing wet nibbling kisses up his neck, nuzzling his ear, sucking at that particularly sensitive spot behind it.
"And I'm a barbarian?" Toby whispered sliding his hands down Chris' side.
Tangling his fingers in Toby's silken curls Chris tugged at him, bringing his lips to his, kissing him sweetly, lovingly.
"Conquered." He whispered in confession, opening his eyes to meet Toby's.
"Roma Victor." Toby smiled kissing him, licking his upper lip.
"Who the fuck is Victor?" Chris moaned arching into Toby's touch, flicking his tongue to catch Toby's, lapping at it, playing with it, his lips curving in a smile, his breath leaving him in a groan as Toby humped him again- a manic chuckle that escaped him sounding so damn sexy to Chris.
His strong beautiful body trembled beneath him as he moved slowly, torturously slowly, dark blue eyes begging him to go faster, harder, strong hands gripping his ass, pulling him in, his knees drawn up, powerful thighs clasped around him, deep groans welling from that magnificent chest and he kissed that perfect mouth swallowing the groans, sucking in that hungry tongue, feeling him deep, filling him with every thrust, so deep, perfect, so perfect.....breathing raggedly, his mouth open....ohgods!...one of them, both of them screaming, helplessly entwined, Chris kissing him gently now, his tongue lashing against his lips, and he's smiling now....his breathy sighs scattering over that gorgeous mouth now....that luscious and so perfect mouth..........
"You're so quiet. What's wrong?" Chris asked sidling beside him, resting his elbow on his shoulder.
"Nothing's wrong." Toby mumbled, his eyes stubbornly riveted on some flowers basking in the midday sun there in the garden below.
"' Key." Chris simply said.
They stood there for a longest while, in silence, before Toby turned to face him, crushing a desperate kiss against Chris' lips.
"I love you." He breathed burying his face in Chris's neck, his hands gripping at his shoulders, desperately wanting to hear him say it back.
"I love you." Chris` broken voice was hot against his ear. "I love you, too, Tobe. So damn much."
Chris squeezed him, burying his nose into Toby's hair, breathing him in, feeling the scent of him and of the lavender that filled the air.
Walking down the busy street, pausing to watch as the crowd gathered around a Vestal Virgin in all her glory, some crippled boy begging her for the blessing, Toby smiled, feeling the life filling his lungs.
The air was hot, stifling, humid, and the streets smelled, the crowd was loud- people shouting, some arguing, some roaring drunk, some preaching, some buying and selling- dates from Egypt, olive oil from Greece, honey and wine from Corcyra Nigra........ ivory, silver, clothes, robes, wool and gold.
Rome at its best.
"Tobias!" he heard a woman's voice calling for him.
Turning he saw Marion running down the street, shimmying through the crowd, her dark curls slightly withered from the heat.
"Good, I've caught you!" She smiled trying to catch her breath, flanging her arms around his neck. "I thought you were dead!"
Kissing her cheek, and smiling down at her lovely face, Toby felt a sharp pang of guilt. "I'm sorry." He said, her smiling face dismissing it quickly.
"Let me look at you." She chirruped. "You look well."
"How are you?" he whispered, still holding her eyes, her hands in his.
"Fine." She smiled nodding her head, her lips curving in a rueful smile. "Fine. I....I have to go." She kissed him in the cheek. "Take care, you hear." Her voice broke, tears glinting in her eyes now.
"Marion..." he whispered squeezing her hand, not knowing how to make it better. "I'm sorry."
She squeezed his hand and smiled, her eyes telling him to let it go. "I hope I'll see you again.....sometimes." She said sliding her hand out from his. "I really do."
He stood there for a long while, long after she left, watching the crowd of Rome, so different from the land where they were born, so far, far away from there.
"You have to distance yourself from him!"
"Why? Why do I *have* to do it?" Chris snapped at his father, the look in his eyes so cold.
"Don't..." His father started but Chris interrupted him again.
"Because you said so. "Chris was seething. "He's my oldest friend!" He murmured turning from him.
"But that's beside the point. He's a good man. A good man! You hear!" Pausing at that, turning to face his father again, calmer now, Chris sat down.
"And he has the point. That reform has long been needed. And if your friends in Senate don't see that then they are just a bunch of damn old fools!" Getting up from his chair Chris braced his hands against a table, leaning in, barking his words at his father.
Looking him straight in the eye Chris drawled. "He has my vote."
"No." His tone implacable, his gaze unwavering Chris stood his ground. "I'm sorry, father." He said turning away, leaving the room.
"Christopher!" His father yelled after him. "Don't be a fool! ..........Christopher!"
"Gnaeus is dead." Chris mumbled hurrying across a room over to a desk and a small rosewood chest on it.
"Chris....." Toby started in a whisper, going to him, covering his arm with his own, stilling his moves, a sad little smile curving his lips.
Holding Chris' eyes he took his hand and brought it up to his lips.
Chris closed his eyes in silent agreement.
Opening the chest Toby carded his fingers lightly over the ivory encrusted handle of a Kris knife- its beautiful sharp blade glinting in the candle light.
He picked it up. It was heavy, but it lay well in his hand.
Clasping Chris' hand, carding their fingers together Toby searched his eyes.
"Come on." He tugged at him.
Reaching Chris' bed they climbed on, and knelt on it facing each other, holding each other's eyes, holding for dear life.
"I love you." Toby whispered, his throat tight, his eyes brimming with tears.
"Tobe..."Chris said his voice breaking. He leaned in searching Toby's lips, kissing him with all he got. "I love you, baby. I love you."
"I love you." Toby whimpered gazing into Chris' beautiful blue eyes, his face scrunching in anguish.
Hooking his arms around Toby's shoulders Chris pulled him close, squeezing tight. He buried his face into Toby's neck, and tangled his fingers into the golden curls that clustered at the graceful nape.
Scolding tears rolled down Toby's cheek.
He felt them. Against his skin. Burning.
He felt Toby reaching for his hand.
His grip on the silken strands tightened. His eyes glazed over, bitter resignation seeping in.
Toby's lips felt hot against his skin. He heard him murmuring something in his tongue. He felt the sharp tip of the knife against his skin. He felt it. The pain.
Warm blood gushing. His blood gushing.
"What...were you saying....just now?"
Cornflower blue eyes looked at him.
Reaching to touch his face, Toby trailed gentle fingers over his cheek." You have died by my hand. You are forever bound to me." He whispered holding Chris' eyes.
Glancing at his slashed wrist Chris offered him a sad smile and his other wrist. "Forever."
His blood spattered the white sheets. Tears slid down Toby's cheek. His lips found Chris'.
"Forever," he muttered against them, "forever," placing the knife in Chris' hand, closing their fingers over it.
With a shuddering sigh he pressed his forehead against Chris'. "I love you."
Closing his eyes he nuzzled Chris' temple.
He felt him tremble. He felt him move.
Pain was nothing. Physical pain was nothing-thick drops of his blood succumbing to gravity, life leaving him with every beat of his heart.
The night was warm, the soft breeze carrying the sweet scent of lavender into the moon lit room.
He lay there in that bed with his arms wrapped tightly around Chris, feeling Chris' lips on his, Chris kissing him so softly, so gently, so sweet, drawing a desperate whimper out of him. "Don't let go. Please....don't let go."
Pulling back just a little bit, looking at him with eyes filled with loving tenderness Chris carded gentle fingers over his face, smearing blood and tears over it, rueful little smile curving his lips. "Shhhhhh......" he whispered leaning in, and covered Toby's lips with his own.
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