“Ah” was what came out of Hector’s mouth about the acquisition of the Elysium. As a slave, his understanding of business was limited to his exposures and still not that deep. He had overheard negotiations pertaining to the selling and dealing of slaves, other slaves, until he was dealt and sold; he had listened to the concerns shared by his master’s son about finances; and now occasionally snooped the conversations of senators. Still, much of it, all of it was beyond his scope.
“He is,” Hector conceded and for a split second, he’d almost softened just a little at the admission in both how his words came out and his demeanour. Of course, he was uncomfortable with his own vulnerability, regardless of how brief it was, that he killed the moment by drawing up his wine again in a bit of a careless display before shoving it back down on the table. It was one thing to pretend like he didn’t care about what the other slaves thought, but it was much harder to pretend to not care about his master. “Anyway,” he interjected; it was a far better thing to derail any notion of the truth. “For starters, I’ve never had the time, the means, nor the interest to go to a brothel.” He didn’t mean it out of criticism or to be critical either, even if his natural voice and manner of speaking often sounded as if he were judging and scrutinising the universe.
“But I have had my share of fucks,” he added with a gesture of his hand. “If… if that’s what you’re wondering.” When it came to such things, Hector had the drive of a rabbit and likely would so long as his heart could keep up and not putter out with old age.
Right at ‘Charis’, Hector’s amiable ‘service face’ tensed, microscopically it had disintegrated into a scowl where his lips tightened. All had been well until he uttered ‘that name’. Despite all the annoyance rising once again through every fibre of his making, he gave his master a sycophantic smile followed by a quiet brown-nosing ‘of course’, even though the words tasted sour in his mouth, accompanied by an adoring nod. As he bowed and backed away to make his exit from the room, his first quiet steps quickened into a brisk walk that led him out into the gardens in search of the rat. As he entered, he stopped a few steps short of her, looked as if he were confused by the proximity, and then backed up and retracted those few steps.
“My master wants you, you elephentine turd,” he said through gritted teeth. “And try not to smell, he has company.”
Hector scoffed at the idea that Helios had promised not to speak to Tertius again or be near the domus. As far as he saw it, if Charis did as she pleased, then no one else was bound to the little rules she made. Even if he could be as colourful as he liked about her, with the agreement between himself and Helios, there was an ability for him to relax just a bit and for a moment, forget her.
As the other slave described the brothels, Hector listened with an air of curiosity. They were another aspect of Rome that he was unfamiliar with and as he was a slave, it was unlikely that he ever would. Yet, truth be told, he was uninterested in the prospect, especially when he felt fulfilled and satisfied with his master, but also because he had his own mind about the slaves that were there with Helios, who presented himself as a three-dimensional person, as an exception. “What do you mean that he also had the Elysium?” Hector asked and from the sound of his voice, it was clear that he marginally recognised the name, if at all, whereas the Domus Venus at least had came to his attention through eavesdropping and the upper classes. Hector was utterly naïve in the whole thing. “You mean to say, that you could have ended up there instead of where you are now or was it a matter of performance and you managed to outfuck the Elysium?” As far as he imagined, Helios was likely good at what he did. He was exotic, he had the face and body of a man that many Roman men and women would desire for a night, and most of all, had that savvy about the way he held himself that suggested he was good in bed.
Hector smiled back to Helios. He was at least happy with what he was getting out of the exchange, although what the other slave wanted in payment was yet to be determined. Pettiness made him feel justified. Inside the home, it was a far easier task to keep his eyes on Charis or at least, subtly weasel out her whereabouts from someone like Jocasta. Even if the woman wasn’t too fond of Hector either and the process of doing so often felt painful because the dislike was mutual. However, nowhere near as painful as it would be if he were to be welcoming of his master’s second lover. “I am as well,” Hector replied with a smug look in response to Helios being glad, deciding that by this point, he could relax and enjoy the drink that he loved so much.
He wondered about the possibility that Charis was not up to anything and that she was clear of all charges, but the slave shook the fleeting consideration from his mind. He didn’t want to even tiptoe near believing that.
“Are you out often or are you normally on your back at the Venus?” Hector said. It was his way of asking how best he could find the other the next time if he needed. “It would seem better that I seek you out again, that way she doesn’t catch wind of anything.” Hector often looked at Charis like a sulky teenager looked at their parent, he doubted her intelligence but still went sneaking around her back.
Hector smiled in return and being very appreciative of the suggestion, expressed it with a: “I can’t describe how happy that would make me. You are incredibly kind.” He often said that of and to Tertius but felt the man was deserving of the claim and he knew that he was lucky to be in the position that he was. Of course, he had seen him when displeased but being a parrot in a human suit, Hector felt without fail that his master’s displeasure was justified.
As Tertius kissed back, Hector almost impatiently discarded his own cup as well, moving it out of the way so that he could put his hands onto his master. He often saw his Tertius’s body in various states and while Hector felt attraction to the combination of older age and masculinity, it wasn’t always sexual but in the current situation, his nudity only served to send his dirty twenty-some year-old mind places. Tertius could so much as breath a single molecule of air and Hector would’ve managed to find a way to have a boner about it. He breathed in when they separated. “Oh, I could tell you,” Hector said and 99% of it had to do with Tertius, sharing a smile that was playful before biting his lower lip in suggestion. “I could tell you or I could show you.”
Hector smiled as Tertius did but only partly because his instinct was to return Tertius’s happiness. Much of his own happiness was because he had been given what was the official go-ahead to ‘keep an eye’ on the other two. Even though, ‘keep an eye’ was more synonymous with words like snoop, spy, eavesdrop, or meddle than it was with attentive observation and that had been predetermined as it was. Hector would have done it even without Tertius’s blessing because ultimately, as he saw it, he was being cheated.
“Of course, it is never any trouble,” Hector assured Tertius pleasantly with a wide smile and a nod. There was no lie. He wanted his master to place his approval and trust in him and he felt fulfilled knowing that he did. And it seemed that he did when he brought up his promise, which was at least one thing amid everything else that Hector looked forward to, and asked after what he wanted. “Well, there is one thing,” Hector said, brushing under his jaw as if he were contemplating, even though he had a good idea of what he wanted. He liked to play humble at times. “I do find myself parched in the night and it would be wonderful to quench my thirst with some wine.” Hector could drink like a sea sponge, but the gods knew he would need a drink at his disposal.
As he spoke, there had been a slam. He might’ve shrugged it away as a result of the other slaves arranging the new room, but it didn’t sound incidental. Rather, it seemed purposeful due to the way it resounded, but he only swung lightly and inclined his head towards the doorway to acknowledge it in his face when he sensed Tertius had heard it too.
Hector felt encouraged at least that Helios seemed to believe that his ideas were of good quality but whether they were or not, Hector had already made up his mind, that he was sow enough trouble for Charis, making living as difficult as possible for her. “And what would that favour be?” Hector asked immediately at the other’s assertion that his help wouldn’t be free, taking another bit of his wine. Naturally, Helios would want a favour. It wasn’t a surprise, Helios lived in a world where he had to be savvy and this was no different. He couldn’t give without taking as well. Hector understood it, though he couldn’t identify entirely. In some ways, they were like the house cat meeting the street cat. “I’ll see what I can do once I know what it is.” Helios was like an unlikely ally, an amiable position to be in with Hector who had no friends beyond his master. If it had been Tertius, Hector would have agreed without any knowledge but that spoke of his faith in him.
“I’m not sure how nice I could play with Charis, Helios,” Hector admitted with a sigh, glancing briefly away from the table as if he were combing through whoever else was there. “It would break me if I did.” The idea of befriending the woman who happily shared the bed of his lover left a sour taste in his mouth and his face wrinkled at the thought, even if the reality was it was ultimately Tertius who decided who spent time in his bed, not Charis. Hector simply did not want to see that, not when he had known Tertius for much longer and felt everything from love, trust, and admiration for the man. No, it was impossible, and while he wanted to weigh the options, he leaned in towards the option of having someone else watch her outside the home.
Hector reached out for the discarded pot, like a mother clasping for her dying child, and cartoonishly observed it as if he were checking to see it had been unharmed in the brief moments it had been in the other slave’s hands. Annoyance did a funny thing to a man’s head. “He’s far too kind to tell you otherwise,” he grumbled under his breath before he fell quiet and listened to Charis move about through the room, which felt far too small for the two of them. It was like squeezing two bulls into one pen. Even he (of all people on this earth) wondered: Tertius, why?
She would be gone soon. He both wanted her to leave but didn’t where it meant she would be with Tertius. On the thought of her joining his master, he shot a side glance, seeing how hastily she was going about but he said and did nothing about it just yet. She didn’t have to speak to make him want to choke on his own bile, even though she did an amazing job of it when she did. Hector’s listless ‘I don’t care’ act was gone at her very last sentence. As Charis tried to move, he quickly moved to grab her wrist to keep her from passing before he reached out and tucked hair behind her ear as if he were a stern mother. If anything, he didn’t want her looking too haphazard going into Tertius, then their master may feel the need to ask and the last thing he wanted was the other man’s displeasure. “We’re not friends,” he reminded her. “This might all be a fun little game for you, Briton, but it certainly isn’t for me.” Hector roughly released his grip, deciding to save his empty threats for next time. She could kick him and leave for all he cared now.
He needed a walk or better yet, a good fapping session to deal with his stress. At least he’d have the room to himself.
The options were overwhelming, especially when Hector was normally easily contented with whatever it was that Tertius wanted. He knew not to turn his master’s kindness and attempt to give him the choice of an outing into an endless indecisive cycle. Before Charis, he might’ve suggested they stay in together but now, the idea of himself with Tertius alone and away from the rest of the home was ideal. “It’s so easy to forget how large Rome actually is, there is a lot to be seen and done, isn’t there? The gladiator games would be nice,” he mused lightly, albeit distracted as Tertius’s hand tracked down from his hair. The crowds of the arena, the smell, and the bloodbath were sure to make his stomach turn. It wasn’t even that he thought he was above any of it, simply that he was unused to the idea of what ugliness lay beneath the skin. The most he ever saw was of the food being prepared in the kitchens. “But the races would be so exciting as well. I would love to see one, see the horses.”
It took a great effort to even speak. Hector’s attention was already swaying between the conversation and the feeling of the hand on his body as it was. His mind had quickly gone to the gutter and it was clear enough in his expression as he regarded his master back. He wasn’t about to push his luck when Tertius had said earlier in the morning that he had been well satisfied the night before, but Hector did smile before he leaned in to kiss his lips.
“I could start by sprouting a pair of marvellous breasts,” he grumbled childishly, and if it hadn’t been for his genuine and overall sourness, it might’ve have been an attempt at a joke at his own expense. Hector could be undeniably unpleasant, but he didn’t have the capacity to be vicious and that might’ve been the reason for his limited imagination when it came to making things difficult for Charis so far. Since the announcements, it had been a lot of unrestrained insult tossing but he could never tell just how much of it was cutting into her, especially because she bit back like a viper.
He had his fingers around wine cup as the other slave poured into it, keenly aware of how foreign this all was. He might’ve been a slave, but he didn’t know how to befriend one, so it was only at his insistence that Hector even drank at all. While he loved his wine as any young man might, he didn’t drink outside of his master’s company or permission. Once Helios had finished pouring, Hector drew it up to his lips for a sip, thinking about what had been said about ruining Tertius’s idea of Charis. “You mean, like sabotage?” he asked. It wouldn’t be too hard, one day something might fall into his lap that he could use against her. “You say it with such confidence. I feel like you must have experience.” He smiled.
“I suppose I could always try to frame her. I’ve always wondered what she does or where she goes when I’m with my master and no doubt she’s already doing something without creating more work for me to do,” Hector said. “If she’s not spinning lies to the likes of you anymore, she must have found someone else or something else.” But that’s what you got from a barbarian.