“He’s happy,” Hector stated with inexplicable enthusiasm once Teutus and Charis were clean of the door. He felt that perhaps Tertius wanted to hear that, being almost like a parrot on his master’s shoulder repeating everything that was desired, but genuinely, he assumed Teutus would feel happiness. It also didn’t help that ‘Hector, stay a little longer’ had revived him well enough from his self-pitying and gave him a sense of value. He paraded towards the doors and closed them, feeling more secure now that the suffocating discomfort had passed. He had been watching the other two as they left with a studious expression, only because he had recognised their trading of whispers back and forth as they entered and wondered if it would continue now that they were dismissed. The most he had caught from his angle was Charis’s gesture and that was the end of it. Now the doors were closed and he was back at his master’s side, fingers clasped, and eager to ‘stay a little longer’.
@Atrice @Sara @Sharpie
“Neither do I,” Hector said of Britannia and fell silent as the other slave arrived and departed in one quick swoop. He considered Charis’s people to be barbarous and uncivilised because it was what was said by the Romans, but it also made him feel superior to her where he was made to feel inferior by the circumstances. His eyes rolled again as Helios recounted Charis’s tongue-waggling once again before throwing in a quick “she can hardly control her vile Latin” as the engaged listener but the detailing of what the girl had said only made his blood bubble all over.
Hector grimaced at the mention of Tertius enjoying the company of women. On its own, it never bothered him but currently, it was still a sore spot when his master had said that there were things that he could not give him. He understood as far as he was able to, but it didn’t cease to feel like a wound each time it came to the forefront of his mind. “Life was better, much simpler before she came,” Hector confirmed. “And I would certainly prefer for her not to be in the house at all, you’re correct there, but she does make Tertius...” He stopped himself, it pained him to say it.
As for jeopardizing his position, he didn’t know how much he wanted to admit that to Helios. His displeasure with the arrangements especially where Charis was concerned were fairly clear, but he was a little too proud to admit everything he was thinking or feeling entirely.
Even despite the shock and mixed emotions, Hector couldn’t quite wipe the creeping shit-eating smile that began to make its way onto his face. It never escaped him just how fortunate he was to be granted his own bedroom as a simple slave, especially when he crossed paths with so many others in the street and they looked worse for wear and even when he began to mentally compare himself to the others in the household, he felt elevated, as if he were step above them. Their annoyance didn’t concern him at all. So far, for as much as he was aware, neither Charis, nor Teutus were granted the same.
Hector didn’t forget his business with his master’s feet and proceeded with his massage. “Oh, thank you, thank you,” he repeated at his master’s suggestion, even going on to place very brief, but appreciative kisses at the closet part of his master as part of his thankful gesture. Not even a god would have received the same response from him. “I am beyond words. Any room I choose?” Genuinely, his thoughts were bouncing up and down like a puppy. He saw it as a chamber all to himself, the ever-wonderful Hector. “I would like that very much. It would be far better than the dormitory. It could never compare to your bed, of course,” he added quickly, referring to that fact that it would lack Tertius. “But it is very appreciated. Again, thank you.” He gave Tertius a smile before ceasing the massage, washing his hands in the water, not under the belief that his master’s feet were unclean but because he intended to give him the drink he had requested.
He scoffed at her little roast. While she began to change, his head tilted lightly to the side with the intention of having a brief peak at what she looked like underneath her clothes, but found himself staring a little longer than he had expected, as if trying to study what was there and discover something about it that would explain what Tertius was after. After all, he felt that he needed a woman, where Hector couldn’t give him that. Perplexed, he quickly shifted his head away, pretending as if it was angled in the direction it was the entire time, perhaps just in time to evade being caught as the other slave spun around. Casually, he brushed strands of hair from his forehead as if that had been occupying him.
“Violent woman,” Hector said like a scolding mother, even if he felt that he should have expected as much from her, before he emitted yet another one of his annoyed tuts. “I have a lot of important items in there.” Predominately oils to moisturise his skin, mud to mask his face. He stretched and dug his head back comfortably into the bedding. If anything, he was gratified that he was succeeding in his mission of making company with misery. “Besides, the room is fine the way it is. You’ve had your fun with the flowers, just relax, it’s not going to look like a stable in here. I’m not a barbarian, it’s not how we are in Rome.”
As Helios rolled his eyes, Hector did just the same, an empathetic mirroring. The other man was right. He did not know the extent of what Charis had said to Helios about his master, his understanding of the entire story was in bits and pieces, from every different source, but as far as he gathered of it, what Helios had done was almost like a favour in disguise, even when at the end of the day, he was out for his money. Speaking of it, he extracted payment to the interrupting slave that approached their table, Hector’s eyes followed his movement as he went to his purse and a finger of Hector’s rapped its surface in deliberation, but he didn’t say what was sitting at the tip of his tongue. Perhaps, later, he thought.
In response to Helios’s query after his master, he immediately assumed that whatever it was that Charis said about Tertius, which was unflattering. It both confused the initial thoughts he had entertained about her, that she enjoyed being with his master. Tertius wanted her, but what did she want? His face wrinkled. “What did Charis say of him?” he asked back, though he didn’t need an answer. He felt at this point that it was clear that she was difficult. “She doesn’t know my master at all, not like I know him. I’ve been in his service for some time and he has been nothing but charitable to me. He has always shown concern for my wellbeing, where my last master didn’t even demonstrate that. He has never once struck me, never been rough in handling, or even cruel in his words either. Whatever she’s said about him is a lie. She deserved every inch of her punishment.” In his mind, she had gotten away lightly.
“They couldn’t run their mouths in Britannia as she does, could they?” Hector didn’t have much of a worldliness. Geography seemed to stop at the edge of the city and whatever surrounding Italia he was familiar with, everything beyond all that was like an abstract concept with a cluster of names of like Britannia, Greece, and so on.
Certainly, Charis could take care of whatever his master needed in the night, but could she do it well, he wondered. If it was a woman that Tertius had wanted, he understood that as a man, he had his limitations, it was as Tertius had said, there were things that he couldn’t give him. For anyone else that might have been a sufficient explanation, or it would have at least softened the experience, biology couldn’t be argued against. But for Hector, it added a layer of frustration. Especially that it was to be a frequent arrangement from now on and with another slave in the household no less. He had never been with a woman and outside of producing offspring, he rarely found the appeal these days. As a result, he couldn’t empathise with his master’s desire at all, even more when it was for a woman like Charis. He didn’t dare ask either in case it inspired more jealousy.
When Tertius touched him, he instinctively leaned in. “It doesn’t quite compare, it was far too difficult,” he confessed. “The rustling, the snoring, the smell. Some of them are like owls. Imagine, only two hours of sleep.” His inner primadonna came out in small ways. It had been some time since he had shared space with other slaves or slept in a bed fit for one. “But I would sleep anywhere you told me to sleep, even if it were the floor or on my feet.”
Despite the eager nod at ‘get along’, if it hadn’t been for Tertius being in close proximity, Hector would have made gargling sounds of pain, but instead kept silent, patient and attentive.
Of course, she had to speak. It must’ve been a part of her act, ignore that slaves never had anything to add, play coy, redirect Tertius’s attentions back to her, and reap the rewards.
And for all he wanted to condescendingly say “yes” simply to make Charis feel dense, truthfully, he didn’t know what Tertius wanted out the arrangement with Antonia except perhaps to have Charis even closer to him which was how he interpreted it. He was so displeased with everything that he took every decision as slight after slight against him. Admittedly, he’d have thought Teutus would have demonstrated more… energy given the announcements. At least, if he had been in his place, he would have been sauntering and bouncing with his steps.
@Atrice @Sharpie @Sara
“Flowers,” Hector answered Helios’s question simply, but the word rung out in his ears, making himself feel very young in the process. When the day was done and all was quiet, would he reflect back and regret almost everything he said? Probably. There was still something in him to feel self-consciousness to some degree. It was simply very rare that he assaulted the eardrums of other slaves about anything, especially at the domus.
His eyes squinted as they passed the end of the alleyway and the landscape changed, opening up to a tavern, which caught his attention easily. Helios seemed to have knowledge of the place, but Hector rarely sought out such places. There was nothing inherently wrong with them, he just seldom sought company that was ‘beneath’ him and as he followed Helios into the tavern, he was reminded of why: the personalities that congregated to where there was wine, especially by day, were questionable to put it generously. He uncertainly settled himself down, glancing uncomfortably about and almost gave a picky girlfriend’s ‘why’d you pick here?’ but kept silent, if only because he was genuinely trying his best to be friendly. “I don’t think she knows what the mines even are,” Hector told the other. He didn’t want to give Charis’s intelligence enough credit. Any positive attribute of hers was lost on him. He truly could not see what Tertius saw beyond an exotic gloryhole but insecurity and jealousy masked judgement well. “She seems to think she’s still wherever she’s from. It won’t be long before someone runs her through with the amount of tongue-wagging she does.” He paused, thinking of his own mouthing off. “What were these lies that she intended to threaten you with?” he asked, if only because he wanted to be prepared for his turn.
He stared down at the petal, twisting his face and pressing his lips together in irritation. With her in the room, he felt suffocated and being asked to leave was almost an invitation, though he would never take it if only because she was the one to give it. Otherwise, he would have been more than happy to be anywhere else. He felt the bed move very lightly under her small frame, but he didn’t move in response. “I’m not going anywhere,” he said simply with a strong sense of conviction to keep his ass planted firmly where it was and to make himself as painful as she was to him. “If you haven’t forgotten, I live here now because of you.” As he watched the hair fall down from her head, he felt jealousy and could hardly spare the thought of her alone with Tertius with her hair like that or even the idea that he would be where he was, staring up at the ceiling in the dark, while she was wrapped up in Tertius’s warmth.
“And you don’t have anything I haven’t seen before or even care to see,” he added nonchalantly, slinking back into a rested position, elbows digging into the mattress. He turned his gaze to an idle spot away from Charis to give off the impression that he was disinterested in her, clothed or otherwise. If it had been any other woman and any other man, he might’ve felt some interest, perhaps even giving into his curiosity for long female hair and playing with it until he could set it into a presentational style.
But this was Charis, he didn’t want to touch her, and he wanted her to look like the wood mouse that she was.
Hector hadn’t quite anticipated where this was headed, he had been concentratedly kneading the muscles and joints in his master’s feet, but when it finally came, perhaps for a split second his hand movements faltered, and he might have seemed confused. He wasn’t sure how to process the news. Strangely, there was a small piece of relief because it confirmed his earlier apprehension and it was better to live with the dread of knowing than in the unknowing. He preferred knowing about Tertius and Charis rather than being in the dark, wondering whether or not it was true or if he was simply territorial. But the more each different part of Tertius’s news began to sink in, the more he began to think different thoughts all at once and feel different emotions in response. Hector fought to keep his feelings to himself and shield his master from them.
He then nodded his head to signify that he understood Tertius, but he truthfully wanted to ask him, why? What did he do? “Of course,” he said, working to keep his voice straight and pleasant, and then giving one of the fakest small smiles in all antiquity. Inwardly, he was cursing Charis for arriving in the domus. “I understand, master. My promise still stands, I am here to serve and that couldn’t change.” This was not what he wanted but ultimately, he had very little say in what or even who Tertius did. “And I suppose, on those nights, I would staying in the dormitory as I had that other night. What would happen if you needed something in the night, Charis would take care of it?” He couldn’t imagine handing off the baton, it felt unusual. He also didn’t trust her with him.