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Chevi
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62CE, somewhere in Cappadocia, camp of Quintus Flavius Caesar Alexander Augustus

Felix was so far from home he was not even sure he would ever make it back alive. Honestly, he had not even been sure that he would make it here alive - and yet, here he was, in the camp of the Augustus himself, along with his master. They made it. They got out of Rome, trekked across Italia, got on a ship, and made the journey across the sea (Felix decided he liked the sea) all the way to the eastern provinces, where they endured rough travel and many dangers until they managed to find out where the camp was currently established, waiting for loyal refugees like Aulus. Gathering forces. This faraway bastion of loyalty and order welcomed the exiled noblemen with open arms, and finally, after weeks of living outside the law, things were restored to their proper place again.

Which meant that Felix was once again a mere slave with no particular importance.

Aulus was given a tent the moment he presented himself to his emperor. He deserved it, and more, for putting his life on the line for the cause. The tent was like any other military officer's (space was in high demand in the camp), but it was a home away from home, and more familiar to Aulus than it was to Felix. Felix, on his part, did his best to find his bearings, making sure to do what he could as a body slave for his master's comfort. He got food, got the supplies needed for the tent from the men responsible (even a new set of clothes for Aulus), and once everything was arranged to the best of his abilities, he found himself a blanket and a rug, and made himself a cot to sleep on outside the tent's door. Back in Rome, even a body slave would not have dreamed of sleeping in the same room as his master unless he was ordered to. He would sleep outside, close enough to be called on if needed. On the road here, there were not many rooms to speak of, and appearances to keep up as two traveling companions rather than nobleman and slave, although the farther they got from Rome the less that pretense was needed. Felix liked Aulus, but he did not have illusions about his place.

Besides, the nights in Cappadocia were comfortably warm. 

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Aulus had spent hours closeted with his former commander, discussing the situation he'd left in Rome and what Quintus' next move should be. He returned to the tent he'd been assigned and nearly fell over the slave sleeping across the entrance.

"What in Hades.... Felix?"

Who else would it be, of course? And where else would he sleep; he'd come here as Aulus' sole attendant and therefore it was Aulus' responsibility to make sure he had somewhere to sleep. Naturally, unless ordered otherwise, he would position himself across the entrance of Aulus' tent, to be near his master and stop any unwanted intruders from getting to him.

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The cot was not exactly comfortable, but Felix had had worse, and he was exhausted enough not to care. They had had longer and rougher days on the road, but the arrival was a different kind of exhausting: relief, mostly, and also many, many new things to adjust to. The young slave was already asleep by the time Aulus got back from the commander's tent, and tripped over him. The jab in the ribs jolted Felix awake.

"What in Hades.... Felix?"

"Yes, domine" he scrambled, getting to his feet and tossing the blanket aside, trying to look as alert as a man freshly jolted from his first sleep could "I'm sorry, I must have dozed off. Do you need anything?"

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"You can sleep inside; it's not always going to be this warm and dry," Aulus said, ducking into the tent and pulling his cloak off, flinging it aside. Naturally, he had left Rome without anything other than the clothes on his back, the knowledge in his head and the slave at his side. Somehow, Quintus' second in command had found him a uniform that fit, though he'd still have to see the cobbler about getting some decent footwear made - and for Felix, too.

"Is there any warm water to be had?" he enquired, though he'd spotted the food laid out, which made him ask, "And have you eaten?"

They had spent several weeks on the road and at sea in one another's company, and where Aulus ordinarily wouldn't trouble himself about his slaves, he'd dragged Felix all this way into a world that was totally foreign to him. Ensuring his slave had food to eat and somewhere to sleep was little enough.

 

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"You can sleep inside; it's not always going to be this warm and dry," 

"Thank you, dominus." Felix nodded, following Aulus inside, piling the blanket and the rug in the corner of the tent. He did not want to assume that his master still cared about his sleeping arrangements, but it was good to be allowed inside from the open elements. He took the cloak Aulus discarded and folded it to be placed aside. It gave him something to do other than stand around awkwardly. 

"Is there any warm water to be had? And have you eaten?"

"I had some bread" Felix nodded "And there was some hot water, but I'm afraid probably lukewarm by now." he nodded at the bronze basin set up for washing "I can go and get new water if you wish."

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"No, that's fine," Aulus said, stripping off his neckcloth and dipping his hands in the basin to splash water over his face before reaching for a towel and dropping to sit on the edge of his camp cot.

"I don't suppose anyone's explained anything about how it'll work for you in a military camp," he said, noticing the plate of food set nearby and reaching for some bread himself. He stretched his legs out in front of him. It was good to finally sit down and relax into a routine he was familiar with. The tension and possibility of being caught and killed had receded further and further into the background as their distance from Rome had increased, although being with Quintus now, and Aulus' position with the Legions, had by no means diminished his need to make decisions. But in this camp, with Quintus in command, even that had disappeared for a short while, leaving Aulus with a bone-deep tiredness and a nagging ache that stemmed from the sort of need he would ordinarily turn to his wife for.

 

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Things were not perfect, and far from the comforts of Rome (as far as Aulus was involved anyway, a slave cot was a slave cot anywhere), but they were a vast improvement compared to being on the road. Felix handed a towel to Aulus and set the plate within reach for him, trying to act like he was practiced in the things body slaves would do.

"I don't suppose anyone's explained anything about how it'll work for you in a military camp," 

"I can't say they have. But I learn fast." Felix noted. It was something Aulus already knew, or he would not have dragged him all the way here. "Let me know what you need, domine, and I will figure out a way to find it. I know I have not been in a military camp before, but I know how to keep from being in the way."

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"The main thing is, if anyone tries to stop you carrying out an order, you're obeying me, and I'm one of the senior officers here," Aulus told him. "I won't give you orders that will conflict with the military side of things or that will be impossible for you to carry out because of that - or I will do my best not to. If for some reason you can't fulfil an order, I will want to know the reason - some excuse won't cut it."

That went for the soldiers under his command, too, of course.

He reached for the straps of his breastplate. Armour was familiar to him, and comforting, especially after weeks as a fugitive, but it would be nice just to relax in his tunic.

 

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Life as a body slave was somewhat new to Felix, but he was getting the hang of it. Life in a military camp, on the other hand, was definitely new, and if he did not want to make grievous mistakes, he would have to learn fast. At least Aulus knew this, and did not expect him to miraculously know everything immediately. He was a practical man, and Felix did not want to disappoint him.

"The main thing is, if anyone tries to stop you carrying out an order, you're obeying me, and I'm one of the senior officers here. I won't give you orders that will conflict with the military side of things or that will be impossible for you to carry out because of that - or I will do my best not to. If for some reason you can't fulfil an order, I will want to know the reason - some excuse won't cut it."

"Yes, dominus." Felix nodded. It sounded reasonable. "Would you like me to help with that?" he ventured, as Aulus started fiddling with his breastplate. He looked a lot more like the Roman nobleman he was, now that he was in a military outfit. Felix offered an apologetic smile "It is another thing I need to learn, isn't it."

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"Yes," Aulus replied, shifting so that his slave could access the buckles and straps that fastened his armour on. "I daresay the first few weeks will be full of things you need to learn." The breastplate set aside, Aulus stretched.

"If you have any questions about anything, you may ask, when we're alone like this," he added, picking up the goblet of wine that had been set with the plate of food. "You're not a house slave any longer, you're my body slave."

Which meant that Felix would be closer to Aulus than it was likely he'd been to any member of the family. He was probably going to have all sorts of questions and if answering those meant that he would be able to serve Aulus better, well, it was a small price to pay - and the slave had proven he had the tact and discretion required by his new role.

He found himself watching his slave over the rim of his wine-cup as he moved about the tent, setting things to rights.

 

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Undoing the clasps and fastenings of the breastplate was not easy, but Felix managed to figure it out with minimal fumbling. He was far from having the practiced movements of body slaves and soldiers, but that would come in time, and he'd have plenty of that to learn. He set the armor aside, as carefully as possible.

"I daresay the first few weeks will be full of things you need to learn." 

"Without a doubt." Felix nodded, for a moment speaking like he used to when they were on the road "But learning new things is always useful."

Especially for a slave, who was worth exactly as much as his useful abilities.

"If you have any questions about anything, you may ask, when we're alone like this. You're not a house slave any longer, you're my body slave."

Felix looked up. He'd been acting as a body slave for the road, but his role from this point on had not really been discussed in an official way. Body slaves were always carefully selected, since they were privy to things around their masters not many other people saw, or knew. It was a sign of deep trust to nominate a household slave like him to that position.

"Thank you, dominus." Felix nodded, with honest gratefulness in his voice. Aulus picked up a cup, and his dinner was already set out on a place. "Is there anything else you would like me to do?"

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Aulus eased his shoulder once the breastplate was removed. He'd arrived here without a shred of uniform or equipment to  his name, and had been found enough to stand up in, that fit relatively well, as well as being assigned to a tent of his own (for which he was more grateful than Quintus Caesar probably realised), yet he was unused to wearing armour, or he'd grown unused to it over the last few short months.

"I don't suppose you're any good at massaging stiff shoulders?" he asked, setting the goblet down and tearing off a piece of bread and suddenly discovering that he was ravenous. Felix seemed to be pretty handy at most things, or was quick to learn things he'd never had to do before. Aulus hoped he'd be able to offer a decent neck-rub, but wouldn't be too surprised if he'd found the first thing Felix couldn't do.

"I daresay you'll learn from the other slaves in camp, too," he added, swallowing his mouthful and helping himself to more. He didn't somehow think that Felix would turn out to be the gossipy type, but Aulus wouldn't begrudge him friendships among the other slaves, having dragged him away with no warning  from the friends he must have had in the Calpurnius household.

 

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"I don't suppose you're any good at massaging stiff shoulders?" 

Felix blinked, trying to assess if his master meant the comment, or was making a joke. Not that it would have been outside the realm or normalcy for a master to ask their body slave for a massage after a long day - it was just one of those things that body slaves did that did not really occur to either of them while on the run. 

"I daresay you'll learn from the other slaves in camp, too,"

It had been a long day for the both of them, and one full of changes. Felix was proud of himself for pulling together a decent meal and setting up the tent with the comforts he could muster up. They had done the near impossible, getting all the way here from Rome. 

"I can try" he noted, stepping up behind Aulus "May I, domine?" Once he had permission, he would rub his master's shoulders. He was not exactly trained the way bath slaves were, or even practiced, but he was willing to make an attempt. Sore muscles was nothing new to him from his house slave days and the long days on the road. "I don't really... have experience in doing this, so let me know if it is not to your liking."

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"Yes," Aulus said, shifting to pull his tunic off to make it easier, before reaching for the rest of the bread as he leaned forward. "You don't have to be perfect. Pretty sure anything will be better than nothing."

Felix had done incredibly well in his new role so far, even before he'd realised this was his new role, probably - certainly Aulus had only just confirmed it for him, anyway, and he'd set the tent up with pretty much everything Aulus could possibly require, at least for now. He leaned forward to make it possible for his slave to get to his shoulders. Even the worst massage in the world would be better than the stiffness that had set in over the last few hours of poring over maps and plans - it had maybe even set in over the last few weeks, or longer, with all the tension. It wasn't as though he'd been able to go to a bathhouse and make use of the services provided there, after all, not once he'd been forced to leave Rome.

Truly, Felix had been well-named. He had absolutely hit the jackpot when he'd selected the man to come with him, and would have to remember to sacrifice something to Fortuna to show how grateful he was to her. Felix was proving to be worth his weight in gold, though Aulus wouldn't sell him even were he offered such a price.

 

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"Yes. You don't have to be perfect. Pretty sure anything will be better than nothing."

Felix waited for Aulus to take off his tunic before he placed his hands on his shoulders. It had been a strange journey, going from house slave who looked at his feet when the master passed by, to traveling companions on the road through life-or-death adventures, to becoming a trusted body slave to a military officer. Aulus was an exceptional man, someone who was determined, brave, but never cruel or proud. There were moments on the road where they talked and behaved almost as if there had not been a wall of privilege between the two of them. Felix respected his master, but he also cared for the man he'd traveled with this far.

Aulus' shoulders were tense. He had been without most of the luxuries of Roman life for weeks, and now he was wearing armor again, preparing for another kind of fight. Felix massaged the sore muscles, pushing his thumbs into them, trying to guess at the appropriate force that was not painful, but relaxing enough. He had seen other slaves do this, but never gave a thought in his old life, since he was never going to enjoy such luxuries, and he was not supposed to do work like this either. But now things had changed, and Aulus deserved to have a comfortable night, with decent food for once, and no sore shoulders.

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Felix might not have been a trained masseur but it hardly mattered; he had the strength in his hands to work out the knots in Aulus' back and shoulders and technique would come with time. Aulus tried not to shift too much under his slave's hands, he had no wish to throw the other off his stride (especially as such intimate service was very new to him) yet it was hard to stay still as the knots were worked out. He'd had no idea he had grown so stiff over the past few weeks, although it really should not have come as a surprise.

"Mmm, that does feel good," he said, and stretched as Felix stepped back. There was something about the younger man that called to Aulus' carnal instincts - Horatia Justina would surely not mind if he decided to slake his lusts; he could not be expected to be celibate for the foreseeable future, especially with an attractive slave at his beck and call.

He stood, approaching his slave. "Have you ever been with a man?" he asked quietly, blue eyes searching out green, even as he reached to trace a finger round the shell of the other's ear, gentle lest he startle the other too much and scare him. He had no wish to do that, after all.

 

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Aulus made a satisfied sound as Felix worked through the knotted muscles. There was something unusually familiar about the scene. Had he been a slave trained for this kind of service, it would have been just that, a slave doing his job following the master's wish. But after spending a long time on the road, relying on each other with the kind of trust they would not have needed otherwise to survive, there was a bond between the two men. Felix would not have presumed to call it friendship, but he also felt a sense of satisfaction at helping Aulus feel better.

His master eventually stood, turning to face him. The look in his eyes was one Felix had not seen before. The light touch at the side of his face made his breath hitch in surprise.

"Have you ever been with a man?"

Felix's eyes widened slightly. It was a simple question with a lot of implications. The simple answer was no, he had never been intimate with a man. Not that he didn't feel attracted to some of them occasionally, just as he found some girls attractive. As a house slave, he'd fooled around once or twice with some of the slave girls in secret, but the men... did not seem to take a second look at him. 

And now Aulus was looking straight at him.

Felix swallowed, his lips suddenly dry.

"No. I haven't."

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Of course he hadn't. Aulus hadn't planned for him to be Felix' first, either - but that was seemingly what Jupiter had in store for them. Aulus just wanted a quick fuck, really, he hadn't exactly thought that Felix might not have any experience of men at all.

"Well, then," he said. His slave was handsome enough in a rugged sort of way, especially with the golden light cast by the lamp. He looked suddenly nervous - understandable enough, Aulus supposed.

He had grown closer to Felix over the past few weeks than he'd been to any other slave since he'd put on his toga virilis, and had no wish to spoil that, yet he had a sudden urge to lay claim to his slave in a far more primal way. He was perfectly within his rights to do so, of course, but had no wish to do anything that would hurt his slave, or make him resent Aulus and his place in his life.

He slipped his hand behind Felix' head and pulled him down for a kiss, insistent but not forceful.

 

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Aulus was an attractive man. Not just because of his highborn Roman features, or the way he carried himself; he was also clever and attentive, and Felix felt a kind of fierce loyalty to him after the weeks they had spent together on the road. He felt drawn to the look in Aulus' eyes. He was not as dumb as the household used to believe; he knew what his master wanted was not an emotional connection, or seduction of any sort. He also knew Aulus could have ordered him if he wanted to. He would have felt differently about all that before traveling halfway around the empire with him. But that was then, and now was now. And even after all that, it was sort of mesmerizing that Aulus actually kissed him.

Felix knew how these things worked, in theory. He had some experience with women, but not men, and none at all with doing any of this with someone so high above him in standing. He was slightly taller than Aulus, so he tilted his head as he was pulled down into the kiss. He responded instinctively, kissing him back; excitement coursed through him, and his hands hovered at Aulus' shoulders. The pleasant feeling of the kiss made him slightly dizzy, but he was not so completely distracted that he wouldn't keep himself still. It was Aulus' right to initiate things, and he would follow. 

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Felix responded to his kiss - which was gratifying - and more than gratifying. He had no intention of seducing the slave, nor had he any need to; his slave was his to command whether he wanted to obey or not. On the other hand, Aulus was not particularly interested in forcing the issue. The law said that it was not possible to rape your own slave, as the owner would simply be making use of his property.

Yet there was something intensely satisfying to know that his interest was returned - hesitantly returned, perhaps, by one who'd never done this. Aulus found that he was rather looking forward to educating his slave in the finer details.

"Take your tunic off," he said into Felix' ear, allowing him just enough room to obey the order.

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The strangeness of kissing his master aside, Felix found himself enjoying the kiss. It went against his natural instinct to give up initiating anything; with the excitement drumming through his veins, had Aulus been someone equal to him in standing, he would have been a lot more forward. As things stood, he was glad that his master was not more... impatient about all this.

"Take your tunic off,"

He did. Aulus had seen him naked on occasion during their travels (usually the occasions when they had a chance to bathe), but he never looked the way he did now. As a slave, most of the time Felix was invisible to free men. He winced, once again holding back from starting something he was not supposed to start. He cleared his throat instead.

"I hope I won't disappoint you."

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"I hope I won't disappoint you."

"You haven't so far." Aulus said, taking in his slave's appearance, and his nervousness. He was good-looking, with muscle that came from actual work. Not by any means the delicate pretty boy sort that appealed to many men, Felix was far more to Aulus' taste. The green eyes watching him seemed curious, a little nervous, perhaps even somewhat uncomfortable under Aulus' scrutiny. He would not at all be used to being seen by his master, after all. He certainly would not be used to being watched by him.

He drew Felix in for another kiss, dropping his hand to unwind his slaves' loincloth before pulling his own off, dropping both garments to the ground.

 

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"You haven't so far."

Despite his nervousness, Felix couldn't help but chuckle a little. In light of where the conversation stared, back when they talked about Felix needing to learn new things, he would have never thought he would be learning these things tonight. 

With both of their tunics gone, Felix could feel the heat of Aulus' body as he pulled him down for another kiss. He responded more readily this time, cautiously allowing himself to enjoy the contact and the sensation that came with it. Felix was not a terribly experienced kisser, especially when it came to men, but he was, as he had stated before, a quick learner. Especially in things that interested him.

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Aulus had no idea how much later it was when they finished, legs tangled together, in his camp cot - it wasn't the most comfortable of things, only being designed for one, but it was an officer's bed so it was a generous designed for one. As far as military camp gear went, anyway.

He had done everything by the book - even though Felix was a slave and not his lover, he'd had no wish to hurt him and had actually enjoyed taking his time over it, exploring the other's body and responses.

"Very pleased with you," he said, rolling onto his back. "You may spend the night here, if you wish." He turned his head to meet the other's green gaze. It was a free choice. Quite possibly Felix hadn't had many of those in his life - but Aulus was not one of those who'd take his own pleasure from a slave and then kick the slave out to tend to his own needs.

 

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It took quite a long time for Felix to catch his breath. Everything was a blur of sensations, mixed with emotions and thoughts he could not even begin to disentangle. Aulus didn't need to take his time the way he did, and Felix knew that. He had seen another side of the man he had been following since they left Rome behind. He would not fall for the illusion that his master cared for him more than he cared for any slave... but that did not make what they just did together any less pleasurable. Felix allowed himself a drowsy half-smile as Aulus turned to look at him.

"Very pleased with you. You may spend the night here, if you wish." 

Very pleased with you too

"Thank you, dominus." Felix got up from the bed, stretching his muscles gingerly and picking his tunic up from the floor. There were some extra blankets in the tent; he could make a comfortable cot for himself on the floor by the bed. He would not presume that Aulus would let him share the bed with him. It would have been far from appropriate to fall asleep like that, after all. 

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