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August, 75 AD

It was dark out. Late and dark. Marcus had been out for a special event, a nobleman had desired a shaving and it had to be Marcus and it had to be at this hour. Why, no one knew. But Marcus was not one to say no to such a job, not when it paid so well and ensured the man would use his services another time too. Now was the time however to return to his home and his slaves. Marcus had a bag over his shoulder, with all the important shaving equipment. He’d brought no slaves with him, the nobleman had his own, after all.

He cast a glance at the Elysium as he passed it. He had a friend there and a whore he thought he might return to sometime. Not because he liked her or anything, but because she’d bled in such a lovely way and it had felt so good to finish in her afterwards. But not tonight. Tonight he might have Aculia, with the pretty new scar on her face, proving that she was never to fail him again.

Marcus decided to use a shortcut down a darker alley nearby. He heard someone walking behind him then and the footsteps were coming closer. Oh really? Marcus smirked to himself, reaching for the small blade in his purse and it was about time, because moments later, there was a hand on his shoulder.

Though before the stranger could beat him up or try and steal his bag, which was what he assumed they would do, Marcus had swung around and pinned them up against the nearest wall. He might not be huge and overly muscular, but he was fast and agile and he wasn't weak either. He held the blade to their throat, “And what exactly was your plan? You picked the wrong victim…”

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Didia liked to be helpful. She had a strong belief that putting positivity into the world would mean positivity came back to her. Tonight that was not to be the case, and she cursed every single God under the sun and herself for her good nature. She walked the long way back from the warehouses today, needing time to clear her head and wind down from the day. Appius had gone ahead with their father and so she had taken the scenic route on the Via Lata. She had been happily minding her own business, not caring for anything or anybody, walking and meandering along humming her little tune and enjoying the coolness of the evening after another blisteringly hot day. Then she saw the man in front of her drop the pot and things started to unravel. 

She reached down to scoop it up and frowned. It looked expensive in its little glass jar, and even with the stopper she could smell a pungent whiff of lemons. Pricey. And not hers. She blinked and looked up to see the man cut down an alley and without thinking (stupid girl!) hurried her steps to follow him. She saw him draw to a stop and raised her fingers to tap him on his shoudlder, but as she did he spun round and before she could blink had a knife at her throat and back against the wall. She choked and dropped the pot, hearing it shatter on the floor. 

Well shit

Unfortunately, however, for Marcus Barbatius, Didia was a woman who had grown up in the rougher edges of Rome and knew full well how to take care of herself. Despite her lapse in judgement by following a strange man down an alley (she really was an idiot, although she was blaming it on tiredness), she could handle herself. Or try to. She came up to his shoulder, after all. She kicked out at his shin, a frown on her face; "Returning your bloody pot!" She kicked him again although the movement caused the blade to press tighter against her throat and she stopped. She felt the beginning of a wound smart against her throat and cursed the fact that her own knife was sequestered away on her  hip. "I'm the bloody victim! Let go of me!" 

 

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It was a woman! But it didn’t matter, women could be thieves and pickpockets too and he imagined that was exactly what she was! It did not take him many instants to have her pinned up against the nearest wall in the dark alley and his smallest blade pressed threateningly at her throat. The woman kicked out towards his shin though and he let out a groan, but used his free hand to keep her in place, he was not moving away, she would get what she deserved!

She claimed she was returning his pot, but he hadn’t heard it fall to the ground and shatter, because he’d been too busy reacting to his attacker. And as if he believed for a second she was returning something of his, when he knew she’d probably rather steal it. Fucking thief! She tried to kick at him again, but he’d repositioned himself and avoided the kick. His blade was still in place. And in the faint light of the night he saw something glistening on her throat. He could not make out the color and he couldn’t smell it yet, there wasn’t enough blood for that, but he knew the sight of it. Even in the dark.

Blood. He blinked.

Meanwhile she had finally stopped and claimed she was a victim and he should let go. As if he could, now that she was bleeding.

“You’re lying!” Marcus hissed back at her, “You were trying to steal from me. But you shouldn’t steal from me. I already made you bleed…” He said, he wasn’t even looking at her face, he was looking at her throat and he pulled the blade a little bit to make the tiny cut longer.

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"I'm not fucking lying!" Didia choked but kept her back pressed firmly to the wall. She made a little gasping noise as he slid the knife a little and she felt a tiny drop of blood work its way from the wound and roll down her throat to settle in the hollow of her collarbone. Shit, shit, shit. 

"Look!" She choked and moved her sandalled foot to crunch into the shattered glass, trying to get him to look or failing that, hear the sound of the shattered glass under her foot. "Your pot! Lemon or something." She felt the dampness of the stone wall behind her on her shoulder blades, the stone scratching her skin. There were plenty of bad people in Rome but she was generally street wise and knew how to take care of herself. Usually that involved the mantra of 'when it doubt, run' but that wasn't an option with a knife against her throat and nobody around to help her. 

"Take me to the Vigiles if you don't believe me, we can sort it out there!" She exclaimed loudly to try and disguise the sound of her rustling around in her small pouch at her belt as she tried to fish out her own small knife. 

 

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It annoyed him a bit that the light in this alley was so faint. He couldn’t make out the color of the blood, just its glistening against her dull skin. She claimed she was not lying, but then she gasped as he cut the tiny wound half an inch longer, to make it bleed more. It was so thin, the little line he cut, but it was enough. She was bleeding. He made her bleed.

She went on though, talking with her knife against her throat, stupid bitch. She didn’t know what was best for her. She should shut up. She said he should look and moved her foot around on the ground. He could hear some glass and she spoke about his pot with lemon in it. Was she not lying? He wanted to look in his bag, but he couldn’t very well do that while keeping her by the edge of the knife at the same time. And he already made her bleed. It was too late anyway.

She suggested taking him to the Vigiles then, which made his gaze shoot up to hers, “If you mention just one word to the Vigiles about this…” He hissed, threatening her. She just shouldn’t. He already cut her. It was too late to stop and pull back. How did he solve this… if he dropped the pot and she was returning it, then he was in the wrong when he cut her and that would not do. Not when he’d already done it. He would need to make it her fault, to justify it. How was it her fault? He glanced briefly to the ground where the shattered pot lay. He knew how to twist it now. Marcus had an impressive skill for twisting words and actions into what he desired.

“You broke the pot. If you were returning my pot, why did you break it? The oil is valuable!” Marcus then hissed at her, “You’re not going anywhere. How does it feel to bleed?”

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Didia felt a flurry of panic fill her chest, making her breathing faster and her heart drum against her ribs. Shit. "Because you pulled a fucking knife on me and I dropped it you prick!" She choked out and satisfied that she'd retrieved the knife, pondered her next move as he held her steady against the wall. Stabbing him directly wouldn't do - he could jerk his hand as he fell and she'd be dead before he hit the ground. But he seemed in absolutely no mood to let her go. 

Deciding in that moment, she swallowed and tried to angle her neck away from him, desperately trying to put some distance between her throat and the knife in his hand. "I...I don't know," She managed in response to his question and then before he'd have time to react she took her own knife and held it firmly, the tip of it at a mass underneath his tunic and his sublicagculum that she presumed were his balls. She moved the knife ever so slightly, pressing into his skin underneath the layers of clothing. "How does it feel to you, you cunt?" 

 

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He could hear how her breathing grew faster and he kind of enjoyed hearing that. She was frightened now. She claimed now it was his fault she dropped the pot, “You should have held onto it better. You knew it was valuable.” Marcus hissed back at her, he was certainly in no mood to let her go. She tried to move her neck away from him, but he knew such movements and the blade followed her. He’d asked her how it felt to bleed and the bitch said she didn’t know.

Suddenly though, there was a feeling of something pointy against his own body, against his inner thigh and he felt the tip of it then. She had a knife too. Interesting.

“It’s… fascinating.” Marcus had rarely been hurt at all in his life, he was usually the one hurting others. Not that he was unfamiliar with pain, but it just didn’t happen so often. Did this woman enjoy it too? Blood? Still though, he couldn’t let her do it.

“However... ff you hurt me, I’ll still live. And if you hurt me, I still have a chance to cut your throat. It’s your choice.” Marcus then said. He wasn’t afraid of her. But he was interested now. He kind of wanted to take her home, see what else she’d come up with.

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Fascinating? Who was this sick creep? She kept her knife there, slowly digging into the skin just to the left of his crotch, her jaw set and eyes narrowed. Her neck hurt, stung really, but her discomfort largely came from the fact that she could see absolutely no way out of this. What he said was right and she swallowed. From her position and her height she couldn't raise the knife to his throat, or even his chest - he'd cut her throat before she had a chance, of that she was sure. The most she could hope for was that he wanted to leave here with his balls and would let her go.

"You'll still live but you won't be a man." She sneered back at him, trying her hardest to look menacing (and failing). 

She glanced around, praying that somebody somewhere would decide this alley was the perfect place for a piss or a shortcut home and interrupt them. How could she be so stupid? She angled her back, her shoulder blades smarting at the stone rubbing them raw. "I'm not some slave," She said in a low voice, now moving on to try and reason with him, "I'm a citizen," Thank you Julius Caesar, for allowing the Hispanian's to claim full citizenship, "And I have a family, you can't just cut my throat and pretend I never existed, they'll come looking." She tried to glare him down although how frightening it was, she wasn't sure. "So what's your plan?" She pushed the point of her knife firmer against his skin, "What on earth are you  going to do now, hmm?" 

 

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Yes, who was he really? No one really knew. And those who dug too deep or asked too many questions were silenced somehow. Marcus just wanted to do what he liked to do, he wanted to perform his work with shaving people and cutting their hair and every once in a while he would follow his desire to see blood. He had not made anyone bleed for a little while, but this woman’s blood stirred something in him, as it often happened by the sight of blood. And she was interesting, this one. She tried to fight back, she even had a knife!

But he could not let her get the upper hand here. Marcus tried to explain to her that she could hurt him and he’d still have the chance to kill her. She interested him though. It would be a pity to just kill her. She was more interesting than Aculia, that’s for sure. The woman then spoke up, saying he might live but not be a man.

Marcus tilted his head, “It takes more than that.” He simply said and then she glanced around, all she could with his blade to her throat and then said she wasn’t a slave, she was a citizen and she had a family. She threatened him with her knife again. She would know his plan.

He had to spin this his way somehow. He wanted to see more of her blood and it was obvious that she would cut him if he cut her too. Marcus had to think fast and he came up with a plan…

“Alright.” He finally said, looking at her, narrowing his eyes, “I will let you go now. If you remove your knife, I remove mine. But stay. I’ll look at the pot. And we’ll find a… solution to this. Alright?”

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Didia swallowed at the movement of her throat caused the blade to knick the skin a little more, a fresh bubble of blood dribbling down her neck and settling with the other in the hollow of her collarbone. He couldn't really believe she'd drop the knife, could he? How foolish did he think she was. She grit her jaw and eyed him. They were at an impasse though and neither one of them seemed willing to break. If she withdrew her knife from his skin then she would be able to slash at him if he made any move. She didn't think he'd kill her outright immediately, no man in this part of Rome with a woman at knife point wouldn't try something before he killed her. And if he made one single move he'd never be able to touch a woman again, she'd make sure of that. 

She eyed him warily and then nodded her head minutely - with all the movement she was allowed with her head. "I will take it away from your balls, but I promise you that if you try one single thing or  you don't drop your own, your wife won't be getting your stylus-thin cock ever again." 

Carefully and with the slowest of movements, she retracted her knife from his balls but kept the blade steady and adjusted her arm so it was chest height. If he tried anything, she was confident she could lunge at him with it - but then again, was she overestimating her own strength? She was only small, and not trained in blades or defence. She waited for him to withdraw his own. 

 

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His eyes settled on the new and glistening blood leaving her body. His heart beat faster again. He didn’t really want to let her go, but he had to do something, had to spin it so that he would get to do more to her. Just imagine her naked and with the blood covering her body. Or even still dressed and her dress would cling to her body and she would lie there, life draining from her while she’d be sorry she said what she did to him. But then it would be too late. Just imagine that.

But not now. He had a plan, it wasn’t much, but it was better than nothing. At last she nodded what she could and then threatened that if he tried anything, she’d cut him. Marcus smiled however when she mentioned his wife.

“I don’t have a wife. And I’m sure my slaves won’t miss it.” They’d be getting the worse part of it though, if she cut him where she threatened to do it. He imagined he’d be in a bad mood. And who was usually in the wrong places at the wrong times doing the wrong things when he was in a bad mood? Aculia could earn herself a new scar.

But he kept up with the plan, while she pulled her blade away. Marcus inhaled a breath, as if he had to force himself to do it. And then he stepped back with the knife, jerking away almost, as if she was the one holding onto him. He felt almost dizzy, staring at her and the glistening blood in the faint light.

Right, the plan!

He kept an eye on her, while he crouched down to examine the shards from the pot. He picked one up. Yes, it was his pot. It did smell like lemon. He stood, facing her, the knife still in his other hand.

“You were right. I… apologize for thinking you were a thief. And for hurting you. Now I owe you.” Marcus said, “Please allow me to make it up to you. To make up for my treatment.” Please let me…

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Didia breathed a visible sigh of relief as he took a step back. Her fingers went immediately to her neck and dabbed at the still liquid blood. "Son of a bitch..." She muttered to herself as she wiped what she could away on her dark tunica. Blood stains were a bitch to get out (she assumed, as with stains from cherries - which she actually knew about), so she thanked the Gods she was wearing a dark orange tunica and not some white flimsy fabric. 

Her eyes narrowed at the man as he stood upright again and apologised. "You do owe me." She repeated, utterly unimpressed. What kind of lunatic nearly cuts the throat of a passer by, all over a dropped pot?! She felt deeply uncomfortable and shuffled a little away from the wall - wincing at the scratches on her shoulder blades from the stone. She angled herself away from him, trying to walk backwards out of the alley. "What's your name? I'll get my Pater to send you a laundry bill for getting the blood stains out of my clothes, and for the emotional distress. Then we'll be even." 

Gods she wanted to get out of here...

 

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He saw how she sighed when he stepped back – he saw how her chest rose and fell and thought about the cut he made on that whore’s breast a good while ago. This woman here, she was more occupied with the cut on her throat, muttering under her breath and tried to wipe it away. Such a pity, Marcus thought. But he tried to be more elegant now, apologizing, offering to make it up to her somehow.

She agreed that he owed her and then began to inch away, but Marcus picked up his bag and followed her while she inched away. She asked for his name and wanted to send him a bill for cleaning the clothes and what… emotional distress? Really? She couldn’t handle a little bit of pain and blood? It wasn’t even much!

He tried to hide his annoyance at her claims, he had to make this work his way, “Won’t it be easier to just settle it now… so you will never have to think about me again?” Marcus asked then, “I don’t live so far away. I’ll give you the money right away. I’m afraid that I don’t carry so much on me right now.” He then even offered a small smile, “I will not try and cut your throat again, I promise you that.”

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Didia scoffed, rolling her eyes. She didn’t fail to notice the way he followed her. “If you think I’m going anywhere near you again you must think I was born yesterday.” She held the knife out a little so he could see it glinting in the faint moonlight.

“If you want to pay me now, absolutely fine, not a problem but I’ll be standing ten feet outside your front door and you can throw the money out at me, understood?” She arched a brow, not caring if she seemed combative. She folded one arm across herself protectively. “I try not to spend time with men who try to slit my throat, you’ll forgive me.” She stepped backwards a few paces, to try and get out of the alley but didn’t dare turn her back on him. 

“Your name?”

 

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He had to see her blood in some kind of light. This glistening in the darkness wasn’t enough. But she was smart, this one, he’d have to give her that. It was a challenge, but the more difficult and irritating she became, the more he really wanted to go through with this and see more of her blood. And she deserved he did it to her, for speaking to him like that. She was a woman, she should not speak to a man like that. Marcus was a citizen too! And he would get her.

She claimed she would not go near him again. But then seemed to see the good idea he had, the plan he had, so she wouldn’t have to see him or think about him again. She said she would come with him, but stay far from him. She didn’t want to spend time with him.

“You’re quite sensitive, aren’t you?” Marcus commented, “I’m Gaius. Let’s walk. And hide the knife or you’ll end up being arrested.” He said, but waited for her to begin walking. There was no way he’d walk in front of her, when she had a knife too.

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“Gaius what?” She scoffed. There were a thousand and one Gaii in the city, probably more, and he was being evasive. “And yes, sensitive when a man holds a bloody knife to my neck, prick.” She muttered the last word under her breath. 

She slipped her knife into the palm of her hand and laid her hand flat against her waist so it was concealed as she began backing out of the alley until she was back into the main street. She felt herself relax a bit, even if there was nobody else around. She cautiously slipped her knife back into the little pouch at her hip in case anybody else saw the knife. It was still accessible, just not quite as quickly. 

She kept a cautious distance from him and glanced at him, as she finally turned around and began walking forwards. “Where are we going then for my bloody money?”

 

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He wasn’t about to give her his real and full name. Marcus wasn’t stupid, he’d already harmed her and hoped to do more of that and it was obvious she hated him. Especially when she asked for his name and then added why she was sensitive and called him a prick. She muttered it, but he heard her. He had just been defending himself! He thought she was out to rob him! What should he have done, if that had really been the case? Just allowed it to happen when he actually knew how to defend himself? Fucking bitch. She had it coming.

“Gaius is all you need to know.” Marcus simply replied and thought it might be smart to buy another place, or rent it rather, a small and cheap insula where he could take people, so he wouldn’t have to bring them home. That would be less risky. He’d get that done as soon as he could, but obviously, that was not tonight.

Together they went out onto the main street. Marcus glanced at her while she slipped her knife away. He too had slipped his knife up into his hand. It was small, meant to be kept hidden in a purse. For now he had turned it so it wouldn’t be visible, but it was still in his hand. She asked where they were going.

“To my shop.” He said, “It’s not very far.” Marcus said and paused for a moment. Maybe he could push her into being stupid and more offensive towards him. Give him a real good reason to harm her. It wasn’t that he couldn’t do it without a reason, but something in him knew he ought to have a reason to harm people. Especially strangers. It had to be justified, if he needed to explain it to someone else.

“You know, you need to learn to watch your language with strangers. I know what you think of me. But keep it to yourself. Someone else might be even more easily offended than I am.”

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Shop. She narrowed her eyes on him. "What kind of shop?" Her endless questions were undoubtedly irritating but they help dispel some of the anxiety she felt, ad to learn anything about him would be to her benefit when she invariably reported him. Plus, it had the added benefit of allowing her to talk about herself; "I run a stall, you know, and do deliveries to the noble houses of Rome. They always ask about me, you know." The nobles didn't, of course, but anything she said to make herself seem more important than she was was useful. 

As he scolded her, she stopped with an arched brow - still keeping significant distance between them. "I don't really care for the feelings of men that terrorise women like you have." She shrugged and with a little impish glare in his direction, continued to walk forwards. "What will an offended man do? I have a knife, after all." She smirked over her shoulder on him although slowed her pace - regretting turning her back on him.

 

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Why was she talking so much? Now she would know which shop he ran and said she had a stall of her own and delivered to noble houses in Rome. As if that interested him one bit? You could make someone disappear easily in this city. It wasn’t like she would be the first one. But no, he shouldn’t kill her. And he had told her a fake name so she couldn’t find him. He had to make sure she didn’t talk if he set her free. He could of course just cut out her tongue…

“Just my shop.” Marcus said simply, not about to tell her a whole lot about himself. He knew he’d done her wrong. And he still wanted to do it. He just had to keep her from talking. But he would hurt her. He just needed her to give him a reason and he told her to watch her language. That made her stop and she said he terrorized women. And of course mentioned her knife again.

“An offended man would do much worse to you. And how am I terrorizing you when I thought you were stealing from me? It was self-defense. You know nothing about me.” And he would prefer to keep it that way. She had begun walking again though and he followed, looking at her back. Pity they were out on the bigger street now. He toyed with the small knife in his hand. She had hidden hers away. Maybe he should lead her astray. He should so many things.

“This is a shortcut.” He then suddenly said next to another of those narrow alleys and he took a step back to let her walk first, “I keep my promises, by the way.” He had promised to not cut her throat again. But that was the only promise he had made.

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Didia eyed him cautiously. She'd heard of what offended men could do to women, and not for the first time wondered why Juno didn't just smite them all down or turn them into frogs. Surely she had that within her gift? Then again her own husband was fond of forcing mortals, so what hope did the likes of girls like Didia have? "I know nothing because you won't tell me." She retorted and narrowed her eyes. He did have a point. She didn't trust him one jot but he had thought her a thief. Had a strange man or woman tapped her on the shoulder in an alley, she likely would have reacted similarly at least at first. Of course, afterwards she would have dropped her knife and apologised whilst the man had only pressed his deeper. 

She stopped when he did and eyed the alley warily. She glanced about herself and saw only a few slaves hurrying to Gods knew where, parcels and packages and letters under their arms. 

She then flicked her big eyes to him and offered a dimpled smile, "Fine, but you first." She arched a brow and slipped her knife from her belt, gesturing with it in the palm of her hand so its as still concealed for most people but him. "I also keep my promises. One wrong move and you'll be known as Cock-less Gaius from here to Britannia." She gestured again for him to take the first step into the alley.

 

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It was true she knew nothing because he didn’t tell her, but why should he tell her anything? She hated him, she’d do anything to bring him down, just because he made a little slit in her throat. So he’d have to make sure she didn’t do more. And apparently she still didn’t trust him – with good reason, of course, but he couldn’t let her know that. And now he wasn’t sure he would take her home anyway. He’d find somewhere else. Like this random alley that he now claimed was a shortcut. She stopped and eyed the alley, but then agreed to come. If he went first.

And just in case, she found her knife again. He had to get that away from her. He should take it, it was so much larger than his anyway. And then let her keep it afterwards, so it would look like she’d done it all to herself. All what? He didn’t know yet. But he had thoughts. Images in his mind. And they flashed through his mind.

She said she would keep her promise if he made a wrong move. Marcus slid past her into the alley, but backwards, so he’d not have her back to him.

“Here we go then.” Marcus simply said, keeping his front towards her as he carefully stepped further into the darkness. He then had a better idea. He really couldn't wait much longer. He wanted to do it. To hurt her. Marcus turned around, “Just keep up. It’s dark here. I want to get through this fast.” He told her and walked faster until he was certain she was a bit behind him. Shadows covered especially one of the walls and when she was far enough behind, he leaned close up against the wall to wait for her. And then, simple and easy, he’d stick out a leg and trip her. Once she was on the ground, she’d be met with a foot on her back to keep her down. Hopefully she'd have lost her knife in the fall.

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Didia narrowed her eyes and watched him as he stepped through into the darkened alley. She glanced over her shoulder and offered a kind smile to a passing slave who eyed her with suspicion and hurried on his way. Balls. She sighed. What was he going to do from in front of her, and she had her knife in her palm, after all. 

She exhaled and then stepped into the darkened cut through, exhaling through her nose and hurrying her steps. She wanted to be through here, at his hop, with her money as soon as possible. But the fates had other ideas and she fell prey to his plan almost precisely as he envisaged. His leg caught her and she stumbled, falling onto the ground with a little mewl of pain. She choked in surprise at the foot on her back, and flailed her arms wildly to reach her knife which was almost within her reach. What he may not have been counting on, however, was that even in her shock and her pain was the strength of her lungs. She let roar. "HELP! HELP ME!" She choked and groaned with effort as she frantically tried to get her finger tips on her knife, "HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME!" 

 

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Marcus was not going to let her go tonight without anymore harm done to her body. He wanted to see more blood. And she kept being so rude to him and now she was walking behind him with a knife in her hand. He had every reason to attack her, didn't he? She followed him though, stupid as she was. Odd how he could consider her stupid and smart at the same time. But she had been smart. Now she was forgetting to pay attention, which made her stupid. Marcus acted quickly when it got darker in the alley. He tripped her and she fell over on the ground in front of him, letting out a painful sound and she tried to reach for her knife. But he was above her a moment later, a foot on her back to keep her down. She was squirming and flailing and now suddenly yelling for help. 

Marcus let himself fall down on top of her, on her back, straddling her. He leaned down over her, with a hand in her hair to yank her head up and expose her throat to his blade once more. He leaned down towards her, hissing into her ear, "If you yell one more time, your nobles will be waiting for you a long time tomorrow." He hissed into her ear, "And forget about your knife. Stay still!" His head was pounding with the adrenaline, this felt so good, having her under his mercy and blade once more, having her underneath his body. There was a tingling in his body... "I should cut out your tongue so you won't talk... shouldn't I?" 

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Didia felt tears come to her eyes of surprise and upset. You stupid fucking idiot, did. You fucking, fucking idiot. She felt the cold metal against her throat and gasped at the  hand in her hair, yanking it up. She did as she was bidden and stopped her desperate plight for her knife, just out of her reach. You fucking idiot. In all her years in Rome she'd always been so careful, and besides a mugging or two in her youth, had never been subject to anything at all like this. 

"D-don't." She choked and had to breathe deeply to regain control of her senses and her mind lest she do something rash. "Please, just take my money, I won't tell anybody, I don't even know who you are." The pain in her head from his hand and the blade dancing across her throat was awful. She just wanted to go home. How could she have been so stupid. "Please." She added and gulped. This couldn't be how she died, surely? At the blade of some pompous, sick, creepy fucker in a black alley in the back streets of Rome? Probably food for a mangey dog, or the fish in the Tiber afterwards? Surely this couldn't be how it ended? She'd done nothing in her life but be cheerful and care for others, this couldn't be it? 

She felt fury come back to her, overtaking the fear and she moved her fingers minutely to try and reach for the knife, out of sight from him in the dark of the alley - although she couldn't quite reach it...yet.

 

TAG: @Atrice

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Yes, how could she be so stupid and annoy Marcus? She shouldn’t have spoken to him the way she did, she shouldn’t have mistrusted him the way she did. Not that he wouldn’t have sought to harm her anyway, but she gave him a reason and he thought it was reason enough to justify his actions. He sat on her backside now, with the knife to her throat and a hand in her hair. She was beneath him in more than one way, she was in pain and he enjoyed every second of it. He was threatening her now, toying with the idea of having her tongue cut out so she wouldn’t talk.

She asked him to not do it, offered him money even, begging him.

“I don’t want your money, bitch.” Marcus said, “I want to hurt you.” At least he was being honest, right? “If you give me what I want… I will not cut out your tongue. And I won’t kill you. But I will find out where you work and live.” She did mention a stall at the market and doing deliveries to the nobles. It wouldn’t be too hard to find her, he thought, “And if I find out you talked… I’ll find you again.” He said and pressed the knife closer against her throat again, tightening his grip in her hair at the same time, “So, it’s up to you.” It was probably obvious that he would hurt her, no matter what. The question was to what degree? That's what he tried to make her choice. At least he tried, right?

@Sara

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