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Hector

Put Out the Fire

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Whenever he was given time for himself, Hector was never shy of being performative about it. Although he might not have openly screamed it from the hilltops, there was always a ‘notice me’ about him as he passed the other slaves in the domus by. At least in the past. With everything, he felt far too deflated to flounce about in self-importance. He had accepted Tertius’s word as law, but it didn’t necessarily cease his mourning. Instead, Hector simply left without his usual one-man parade. Before Charis, he might have needed a push to leave the home, he always happy to be more of a shadow than Tertius’s own shadow, but ultimately, he would not have thought anything of it but now, it pained him even more to do so. Even if Tertius was occupied elsewhere, he still felt like somehow Charis was sinking her talons into him.  

Hector usually tried to keep some degree of an exercise routine outside of tending to Tertius, which was arguably a set of exercises of its own, and that day, he took to walking through the streets of Rome in an effort to get his blood flowing. The fresh air, which was as fresh as the air of Rome could be, and the bright yellow Mediterannean sun provided some level of cleansing. In a way, he felt he understood the Greek adage ‘healthy in mind in a healthy body’. The soft breeze gently stayed his exasperation as he walked. Eventually, he found himself pausing where a cluster of people had gathered around, either leaning against columns or sitting back against white stone, to watch some performance by a small troupe in cheap coloured masks. 

Since arriving partway through the ordeal, the nature of the story completely evaded him, but he lingered out of curiosity due to laughter being emitted by some of the passers-by. One of the performers swished along the line of people before stopping just before Hector out of happenstance. They made a comedic statement before scuttling off and breaking into song, but the context was still lost on the slave with the most he could give in reaction was a curve of his brows and a blink in disbelief. “What was that supposed to be?” he commented, receiving a sharp ‘shh!’ from a nearby middle-aged woman, who he recognised from the nearby markets. She had pressed a finger against her lips and looked ready to tackle him if he made another sound.

His eyes lifted up to the opposite end of the crowds and met with the familiar face of Helios, who was either watching or passing by. While Hector still admittedly held a grudge for his advancements on Tertius, he no longer considered it remotely in the same league as with the Briton. Circling the crowds, Hector approached the other man. “What a surprise, seeing you here,” he uttered in greeting, giving what was a brief smile. 

 

@Atrice

Edited by Joaquin
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Helios was once more, on his way home to the Domus Venus. Only the gods and Helios knew where he’d been… oh and of course the people he’d been seeing, but they wouldn’t tell and Helios wouldn’t tell and everything would be just fine. There was still plenty of the day left and he managed to sleep in this morning, so he wasn’t even very tired. The night would be long, as usual, but he knew at least one of his favorite patrons came tonight, so it should be good. Right now though, he was not really in a hurry.

In fact he had so much time, that he stopped to watch a small performance in a small open square between streets and buildings. It wasn’t often he got to watch any kinds of theatre or shows, because they often took place in the evenings and well, his evenings were busy. But this was fun and he laughed when they broke into a song and it was clear that at least one of the men couldn’t sing at all. It made it all even more amusing. Everyone were either enjoying the performance or they were silently watching, until one guy spoke up in the other end and was immediately told to stay quiet. Helios looked in that direction and thought he recognized the guy, but couldn’t place him.

Then the guy seemed to notice Helios too and came over to him, greeting him with a brief smile. Helios searched his mind and then it dawned on him… this had been the slave he briefly met, when he went to see Tertius Quinctilius Varus with the news of his slavegirl Charis - and her speaking behind her master’s back in the park… to Helios. Fucking Charis. Whenever he thought of her, he became a little bit angry. She’d been nice enough the first time and he’d hoped to never see her again, but then they did see each other and that didn’t end well. Especially after that Alexius had come to her rescue. Well at least he had dirt on him. He just hadn’t used it yet.

Right, so this guy here… “A surprise indeed. Good or bad?” Helios asked with a small smile and an arched brow, he recalled Tertius’ slave had sent him displeased looks, especially after Helios spoke to his master. So why approach Helios now? It’s not like Tertius had actually taken Helios’ offer of pleasure. So why? “What was your name again?”

@Joaquin

Edited by Atrice
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If circumstances were different, the answer might not have been good but today, it was good. Still he didn’t confirm it, if only because he did not want to scare his present company off or give any impression that he was desperate for what might’ve been easy small-talk.

Normally, Hector fancied himself as ‘too good’ to associate with other slaves, despite being one himself, and for the most part, he kept a self-imposed distance. But he was also a chatterbox, he could talk in circles when unfiltered and if given the chance, which often lead him to being inexplicably sociable. He didn’t have that option at the domus currently, but then he’d never had it. He was unpopular with the other slaves, yet completely fine with it. His unspoken superiority complex likely had much to do with firmly cementing the overall dislike of his character.

“Hector,” he answered after a very short pause following the other’s question, possibly with exasperation even if there would have been no reason for him to have remembered it. “Couldn’t say I remember yours either,” he said in admission. “Kratos, was it?” The truth was that Hector had remembered ‘Helios’. He had been in the doorway when Helios had been addressing his master and since, his almost protective but equally jealous instinct had kept the name folded in the back of his memory. 
 

@Atrice

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When Helios wondered if it was a good or a bad surprise for Tertius’ slave to run into him, the other didn’t answer. That could mean a lot of things. Most likely that the other slave didn’t know yet if it was good or bad, so Helios would just have to make it work to his advantage. And he could surely do that, right? Sure he and Charis had agreed to just let it go and not talk about each other, but he could keep his promise and still get back at her. He had not forgotten how she threatened to tell lies about him with the goal of having him sent to the mines. And any slave in Rome would do anything to avoid that! Just the threat of it… to think that a petite Briton slavegirl would threaten him like that. No, Helios had not forgotten…

He looked at Tertius’ male slave though, the one who didn’t seem happy with Helios talking to Tertius and inviting him to purchase his services… and the slave’s name was Hector. Right, he remembered that now. Then the other asked for his name.

“Helios.” Helios simply replied, “So, how come you’re out here today, all on your own? Or is your master anywhere near?” He glanced around, but didn’t see him, so looked at Hector again. He was definitely attractive, masculine but in a kind of youthful way. And he had stayed close by and had not been fond of Helios back then, that day… was he Tertius’ body slave perhaps? But Helios said nothing so far and they both seemed to tread on eggshells, not quite sure what to make of the other. Helios was sure he could sway Hector though, somehow.

@Joaquin

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The ‘how come you’re out here’ was like a snap back to reality that he had been trying to ignore. It wasn’t even that Tertius was with Charis presently, he had been engaged in important business and had charitably dismissed him. Still, with the Briton whore under the same roof, he didn’t trust it. Even a split thought of her sent him shaking with rage and not even the gods and divine intervention could calm him. It had certainly irritated him when Helios came to the domus, he felt threatened, but it had been different. Charis was there, under the same roof. 

As guarded as he intended to be, he oftentimes had a transparent expression and gave a smile but an almost bitter one, if only because all the withheld annoyance and anger was beginning to feel poisonous. “I am here alone, does that surprise you? My master is kind and allowed me out,” he answered. If given the chance, he could wax poetry about Tertius for days. “He often does. You couldn’t find kinder.” He was convinced of it. With that, he remembered the sum that Helios had demanded of Tertius had given. He remembered because he had carried Tertius’s coin purse, all the while scowling. Even though he had kept his nose out just enough and stuck it only where Tertius needed him, he hadn’t trusted Helios at the time and didn’t think he deserved whatever money his master gave but again, he believed in Tertius’s generosity. 
 

@Atrice

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Helios had wondered why Hector was out here on his own and wondered if his master was near, but the other smiled… yet it was not a cheerful smile, there was a bitterness to it, especially as it didn’t quite reach Hector’s handsome eyes. The other then said he was here alone because his master was kind and allowed him out. He said you couldn’t find a kinder master.

“He was certainly kind enough to me. Although I could be even kinder to him… for a price.” Helios said with a smile and a wink, “You’re lucky to have such a kind and handsome master. Although I’d say, it’s not everyone in the house that agrees. I’ve met a few of them. Do you know why I came to see your master that day?” He didn’t know how much Hector had eavesdropped, but he must know what happened after. Charis had said Tertius had punished her and kind of what he did – he slept with her. He should feel sorry for her, but on the other hand, what happened to her was not uncommon and thousands of others had gone through just the same. Being forced to sleep with their master, whether they wanted him or not. Maybe Charis shouldn’t go around telling strangers what she thought of her master – but she didn’t know Rome well enough to know, that almost everyone here had their own agenda and often they weren’t exactly good and proper.

Helios decided he’d try and find out what Hector thought of Charis. He supposed he should just let it go, with her, but she threatened him with the mines… he didn’t like that one bit. And she hadn’t understood his intentions at all, for telling on her master. Helios needed the coin, he was trying to save them to buy his freedom. And he would do whatever it took, to gain such needed coin.

@Joaquin

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Hector could hardly return the humour at Helios’s jest about returning Tertius’s kindness. The insecurity compounded by his master’s turn of attention towards Charis made its way onto his face in the form of an unhappy scowl. For as much as he played the well-tempered slave, he was easy to aggravate with the right stimulus. He didn’t have any word for it but when Tertius felt something, he could almost feel it and perhaps, he was a fool for it, or it was what made him a good slave even despite all his efforts. If the other man was upset by something, he too could almost feel that pain when he looked at him or if he, almost like a guard dog, sensed a threat in another, his immediate instinct was protection. Yet now he also felt conflicted and threatened by his interest in Charis.

“I only know that you came for the money,” he said. It wasn’t an accusation, just Hector’s perception. He believed that he understood how other slaves and the poor thought well. He had been around many for so long, even if he didn’t share the same motivation. There wasn’t a chance, in his eyes, that Helios went to Tertius out of complete charity, despite that Tertius seemed convinced or at least enough to become as infuriated as he had. “But it was right you did in the end,” he relented with a sigh. Slaves gossiped amongst themselves about one another all the time, he reasoned. “She is trouble, a scheming little shit.” It felt better to say it out loud, to someone else. And he almost didn’t care it was the first person he had walked up to either. “And I’m trapped with her.”
 

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Helios didn’t know how Hector felt about his master, that he felt so strongly – only that he recalled Hector had given him these displeased looks, as if it was irritating that Helios would even go and talk to Tertius and smile at him. Perhaps Hector was in love with his master? Which was stupid, a slave that ended up there would only be disappointed at some point. Helios knew better and he was too realistic to think like that. But he said nothing to the other slave, instead commented on his master and how not everyone thought he was kind and good. Then of course he wondered if Hector knew exactly why Helios spoke to his master that fateful day…

Hector didn’t seem to know exactly, he said Helios came for the money. Then added that it was right whatever he did and said ‘she was trouble’. Charis was trouble? Oh gods he knew! Or, he found out. Not only would she speak ill behind her master’s back about him, she would also threaten whoever told on her, with the mines! Hector continued, said he was trapped with her.

“You are talking about Charis, aren’t you?” Helios said and his smile at the other slave grew a little warmer, “She’s a bitch, we can certainly agree on that. You know what, Hector, I think we’re going to get along.” He added, they should definitely talk some more. Helios had only promised Charis to not rat her out to her master again… they hadn’t agreed on anything else. So theoretically, this was alright… “Why don’t we go and find somewhere more private, to talk? Come…” Helios waited for Hector to come with him and then he’d begin walking.

@Joaquin

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He hadn’t named names but there was certainly no mystery of whom he was referring to and at Helios’s enquiry, he gave a very honest nod. ‘Charis’, a Greek word for ‘kindness’, inspired such aggravation and resentment, she was nothing like her namesake. It was a relief to hear confirmation in Helios who seemed to agree with him without even a pause for thought, but it was even more liberating to feel all the poison that had been building up inside his heart released and acknowledged by someone else. It had been there ever since Tertius had informed him of his plans and since he had announced them in front of the rest of the household for all the hear. “I would like that very much,” Hector answered, rare enough words from his tongue where other slaves were involved. 

With that he followed the older slave’s indication to move and rushed after him like an over-eager child, presumably off the street and out of the way of the crowds. “I hope you don’t have anywhere too…” he stopped himself, realising that he was supposed to be making friends. So he opted to changed the topic back to Charis, something safe and common. “There is so much you don’t know about her, Helios,” Hector said, almost ominously and theatrically, presuming that the extent of the other’s interaction with her ended at the news he had given Tertius. “You have to live with her to know. She has my master waist deep inside her and her tongue halfway down his ears. Fucking sorcery.” He was ready to complain, though the most of what he had to say of Charis wasn’t especially enlightening or intelligent, it was mostly endless expletive after expletive. 

If the gods had told him days ago that he would find himself satisfied in Helios’s company and receptive of an alliance, he would have scoffed at the absurdity but there was certainly nothing more or as quickly unifying than mutual hatred for another human being. On its own, it was very isolating. 

@Atrice
 

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So handsome Hector agreed to get along with Helios and Helios smiled. He almost wanted to wrap an arm around the other’s shoulder, but refrained from it, since Hector did not seem that approachable to him yet. But it would seem Helios found the right subject to talk about and this would be very useful. He invited Hector to leave the crowds with him and Hector easily followed, catching up and he began saying something about where they’d go, but then stopped – and returned to the subject of Charis. Helios lapped it up, everything that left Hector’s soft lips after that. Hector hated her, it seemed.

“You’d go so far and call her a sorcerer?” He asked with a grin, “I don’t know if I’d take it that far. But I do know she likes to believe she can control your master. I’d even think she believes it now, even after he punished her. Especially if you think so.” Helios said. He had only met Charis away from the household, away from her home. He didn’t know that at home, she’d act as the sweet and obedient slave. He only knew that when she left the house, she was anything but sweet and obedient. She would speak ill about her master behind his back and she would more or less attack others in the street. Every time he thought about the incident with Charis in the street, he recalled it worse and worse.

“This way…” He turned down a more narrow alley. He knew there was a little square at the other end, with a cheap tavern, where they could sit down on their own, “It’s incredible that she’ll try and manipulate her master like that, when she doesn’t even like him.” He said almost casually on the way, but kept an eye on Hector to see his reaction and his response to such words.

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Hector would go as far to call her anything so long as in the end, it made him feel better, ultimately that was his intention: to assuage his own damaged ego. So far, Helios was doing everything right, saying everything that Hector wanted, rather than needed, to hear. For a short moment, he was almost hesitant in entering the narrowing alleyway, if only because there were aspects of Rome that he did not go exploring. As a man, he had less to fear in some ways than perhaps the female slaves when they did venture out but in others, he had more to fear. Being a man always made you game for troublemakers and while he might have been athletic, he had no brawling bone in his body. He also saw such areas as almost beneath him, preferring the domus and areas of the city that felt the sun. Still, he kept behind Helios, giving mostly a look that seemed to be struggling to withhold its judgement, an action that was a gesture of good faith where his normal interactions with the other slaves were smug, self-congratulatory, and filled with shit-eating grins. Helios was spared at least.

“She doesn’t like him?” Hector repeated in disbelief. If what Helios had stated was true, it somehow made him even angrier. “She pretends she doesn’t like it, but I know deep down inside, she squirms like a love-stricken little girl.” He didn’t actually know what Charis thought or how she felt about anything, but it was his hatred of her and consuming jealousy that made him utter anything. Oddly, he first felt enraged on behalf of Tertius, as if it was an insult that she didn’t like him. He couldn’t understand what there was to dislike about Tertius, he had a number of pleasant qualities in not only a master but a man as well, even at his age. But on the other hand, he was enraged because if she truly didn’t like him, what was she widening herself for? It made him feel like perhaps she might turn to be far more troublesome for his master than he realised. 

“She enjoys herself so much, she threatened to drown me the other day even.” A small hyperbole of the flower vase, perhaps but annoyance always added embellishment where it needed it. 

@Atrice

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Helios was good at luring people into saying and doing things they’d not normally do – it was one of the reasons why he was such a valued prostitute and good as a spy too. He did noticed how Hector seemed to follow him down the alleyway first slowly, but then he kept up while Helios talked. Helios was still far too interesting to Hector now, it seemed. The other slave seemed surprised to hear that Charis did not like her master, he didn’t seem to believe it and thought it was pretense.

Helios shook his head at Hector’s idea of her being love-stricken with her master… “The first time I met her, she didn’t speak highly of him. But she thought she had him wrapped around her finger. The second time, she was very upset with me because I told her master the truth. She was angry that she’d been punished.” And angry that she’d been found out about, clearly and of course that was not meant to happen. But now she might have learned to be more careful in Rome, at least. She should thank Helios, actually, for making sure she learned such a very valuable lesson! Hector was not done though, said she’d threatened to drown him.

“She threatened to drown you? Why?” He wondered, “Me she threatened with telling lies that would get me sent to the mines. At least I didn’t tell lies about her.” He rolled his eyes and looked up ahead, as they came out at the other end of the alleyway and there was the tavern. He went inside and found a table in a corner, away from the doorway and open windows and waited for Hector to join him.

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“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. 
 

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When Helios wondered why Charis would try and drown him, he said something about flowers, but didn´t seem to want to elaborate on that. It was a strange answer though, flowers? But Helios didn´t comment on it, instead lead Hector into a tavern and found a table. He glanced at the other slave when they entered, he looked a bit uncertain and Helios wondered about the glance the other gave him. Hector was clearly not used to such places… it must be good, Helios thought, to be such a fancy house and body slave and belong to a master so high and mighty, that you never frequented ordinary taverns.

Helios had also explained how Charis had upset him, threatening with the mines and Hector said she didn´t know what the mines were. She didn´t? She probably just knew it was a place no one wanted to go to, so she thought it fine to threaten with it. Not knowing how deep it cut! Hector went on, saying how she still thought she was in Britannia and he thought she wouldn´t last long in Rome.

“She didn´t say which. She just said she could make up stories about me. And she didn´t even understand why I did what I did. I need coin and plenty of it, to buy my freedom. But that didn´t seem to matter to her.” Helios said and rolled his eyes. A slave working in the tavern came over to them, “Hey, you can not sit here if you don´t buy anything.” The slave said and Hector nodded, fished up a coin from the purse that hung from his belt, “Your cheapest wine, thanks. Now go.” He sent the bar-slave on his way and looked at Hector again, “I don´t know much about your master though, besides what Charis told me. And then I met him, of course… what is he like, when you´re not a new and rude slave from Britannia?”

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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.
 

@Atrice

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Helios was naturally curious to hear more about Hector’s handsome master, and this time not from a slave who hated the man, but one who seemed to adore him. There were two reasons why he would know… of course he was just curious and wanted to ask in order to gain Hector’s trust or at least make the other more friendly to him. On top of that, anything anyone could tell him about Senators was useful. He would remember it and he would use it when he thought it right. Just like what he did with what Charis told him, although he doubted Hector would tell any dirt on his master.

Hector would know what Charis said, but didn’t wait for an answer before he said she didn’t know his master. Then continued to tell his own tale, how he had been there for years and how his master was caring and showed concern for his wellbeing. And he had never handled Hector rough in any way, so he thought Charis deserved her punishment. Quite harsh, Helios thought, but it would seem that Hector hated her more than she did their fellow master.

“I don’t know what they do in Britannia.” Helios said and paused as a jar of wine and two cups appeared at their table. When the slave was gone again, he looked at Hector once more, “Charis called your master a fool and said she had him wrapped around her finger. So she went out without his allowance and she also convinced him to work where she wanted to work. She said he thought he could control her, but she would control him.” Helios explained. He hadn’t said anything to Hector that he had not already told Tertius, “So I guess he proved that she could not control him, by taking her to bed. She said to me she didn’t think he liked women in his bed, but he proved her wrong there too.” Helios poured wine into his cup and drank from it. He was used to cheap wine, it didn’t matter to him, “I suppose you’d prefer to not have her in the house at all. Does she threaten your position?” 

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“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. 
 

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When Helios told Hector more about exactly what Charis told him about Tertius Quinctilius Varus, their master, Hector said she could barely control her Latin. Of course compared to how she'd said she thought she could control their master. Helios suppressed a smile, this was clearly serious business for Hector. It was for Helios too, but he figured, not quite as serious as it was for the other slave. Just look at his face when Helios suggested Tertius enjoyed women. Hector clearly preferred Tertius with men and preferably himself. But he said nothing.


Then Helios wondered if Hector would prefer she was not there at all and whether she threatened Hector's position. Hector seemed to think it over, before saying it was easier before she came... and he would prefer that she was not there, yet then kind of pulled it back as he mentioned his master again.


"What does she make him? Happy? As happy as you make him?" Helios wondered, tilting his head, watching the other slave carefully, "If you want to keep your position in the house, you need to make sure your master will never think anyone can make him happier than you do." He said with a small smile and poured wine into Hector's cup too, "Please, drink. It's on me. Isn't there something you could do... to... ruin his impression of her perhaps? To make you appear much better than her?" 

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“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.
 

@Atrice

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It really was stupid, this idea with getting back at Charis for not accepting his apology and becoming so angry with him. But it would also be stupid to not pick up an opportunity when it was right in front of you, right? He had tried to make her understand, when they met again, why he did it. He was saving up to buy his freedom, to buy his own life! And that's why he sold that story to Tertius. But she didn't care about his reasons, she only cared about what happened to her. Didn't she also want freedom? Wouldn't she do whatever she could to reach that goal, if she had any chance at all? Helios definitely would.

He smiled when his newly found acquaintance childishly said he ought to grow a pair of breasts to impress his master, but Helios didn't allow Hector to stay there. It was hard though to get Hector drunk and make him spill more information, when the other barely touched the wine. Helios tried to make him drink while trying to encourage him to think of ways to ruin Tertius' impression of Charis... so that Hector would seem like the better one to keep close. And so that Charis would get some kind of punishment... 

Hector finally sipped the wine and mused over Helios' words. Sabotage indeed! He nodded with a small smile, holding both of his hands around his cup of wine, watching Hector with great curiousity. Hector pointed out that Helios had experience in that field and he smiled again, "I haven't personally done it to anyone. But I may know a thing or two." He said and let Hector continue with an idea of framing Charis for something. He spoke of what she did and where she went, when she was not with their master and suggested she had found someone else to spend her time with.

"Those are very good thoughts, Hector. You could try and get her talking together with you. Be nice to her and see if she'll spill any secrets to you. Anything at all." Helios suggested, "Or...if you want..." A small smirk played on the corner of his lips and he leaned a little forwards, "I could find out for you and let you know. I could follow her or maybe get someone else to do it. Find out what she's up to, when she leaves the house." He suggested, "Although of course, such work isn't free. You wouldn't have to pay me in coin though. Maybe you could owe me a favor. Unless you prefer the first option and will try and dig up secrets yourself." 

@Joaquin

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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. 
 

@Atrice

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Helios would not require coin from Hector to spy on Charis... no, this he would do for free, or almost. So far he'd made it seem as if Hector was the one needing him, so Hector would have to pay. And Helios could always use a favour, although the other slave wondered what such a favour would be and he'd see what he could do about it.

"Oh... I don't know if I need a favour right now. I just like to know that sometime, when I need it, I can come to you. I'll make sure it is something you are capable of." Helios promised with a smile and sipped his wine, while Hector mused about how nice he could be to Charis. He really didn't like her, did he? If Helios was that kind of guy (and he almost was) he could play Charis and Hector out against each other, set them up by telling their master everything, but there was no gain in it for now, so he wouldn't do it. It was useful to know though, that he could, if he should ever need it.  But so far, he was friendly with Hector - and Hector had actually been quite friendly with him. 

He thought however it would break him to be nice to Charis, "Then I shall keep an eye on Charis for you. And if it is impossible for me. I will find someone to do it for me."  He had, after all, promised to stay away from her, hadn't he? Now he gave Hector another smile, "I'm glad we ran into each other, Hector. I'm sure this will lead somewhere useful for both of us." 

@Joaquin

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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.

@Atrice

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Helios liked it when people owed him favors - and they would not know what the favor would be, although he didn't know yet either. But he had Hector with him now, on his side, and should he ever need anything Hector could do for him... he had Hector's word on it now. Helios mentioned how he was glad they met today and Hector looked smug as he agreed on that at least. Then he wondered where Helios could be found and said he had to seek out Helios if they met again.


"That does seem better, yes. I did promise Charis that I would not come to your Domus or speak to your master again." Helios said, playing with the edge of his cup, "You can find me at the Venus, that is probably easiest. I do leave more or less on a daily basis, but then you won't know how to find me. Every evening and night of course, I am at the brothel. So you can come and find me there." Helios explained, "It's not the worst place. When I first came there, the former owner also had the Elysium, and it is quite clear the Domus Venus is more... luxurious." He added with a small smile. There were better beds and it was just more comfortable for everyone. The slaves rarely ended up in a bad state at the Venus; he heard plenty of rumours about how different it was at the Elysium and was glad he wasn't there anymore.

@Joaquin

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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.

@Atrice

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