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Same Old, Same Old [M-S]


Ione
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June, 77AD

Ione narrowed her eyes on the butterfly in the corner of her cell. It had been in there for a day and a half now and she had no heart to make it leave. It was quiet, at this hour of the day, and so as she led on her mattress, studying its vividly coloured wings she let out a soft sigh and idly imagined the things the little insect had seen in its short life. Arguably more than she had - Kefalonia, to the hull of a ship, to a dominus' house to...here. It had not been a life of adventure for the eighteen year old Ione, that was for sure. 

She heard the bell - rung by the guard on the door, summoning the available girls (which was most of them) to the recently re-opened receiving room. Armenius' improvements had been considerable in the time he'd been here - he was slowly opening up more floors and rooms; the receiving room and kitchen amongst them. Of course, it was still the Elysium and so the quality of the patrons, workers and cells left a lot to be desired but it was improving. Slowly. Which is why her brows rose as she stepped into the line with the others and took in the man looking at them. She noted the slave collar before she dropped her eyes. Her clients were generally plebs, but occasionally slaves - like Spurius' boys. Some masters were more generous with their peculium than her own, it seemed. 

"You can take your pick. Cost is the same for these ones." The guard gestured gruffly at the assembled group of seven of them; five girls and two boys. All in toga's - like Ione - or nude. 

 

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Jason was not generally one to want to pay for sex; he was usually quite happy not thinking about it or anything. But things had changed over the last few months, to the degree that he was here in a brothel not entirely of his own accord although he hadn't protested too hard about it. His master and his friend had hired a couple of extremely expensive prostitutes to come to the Villa of Sallust recently (Jason had wondered quite how Tiberius had managed to get to the ripe age of twenty without doing the dirty with someone but dismissed it as another one of his foibles). This place was the exact opposite; none of the seven lined up could hold a candle to the exquisite woman Junius Silanus had procured for Jason's master.

He dismissed the boys; even seeing them reminded him uncomfortably of that horrible day with a Roman soldier grunting and groaning on top of him. That memory nearly made him walk out - that memory was what had put him off doing this for as long as it had.

Of course the proprietor (you could hardly call him the madam!) had picked out the cheapest whores in the place; Jason's slave tag might not be the biggest in Rome but it wasn't exactly the most discreet thing to have round your neck.

"I'll take - I'll take her," he said, picking almost at random, though he gave the girl a smile and very nearly changed his mind when he saw how young she looked. It was too late, though, the proprietor was already herding the others out. At least she was wearing something, he thought, even if it was only the meagre toga worn by Roman prostitutes.

 

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Ione heard the man speak - almost hesitantly - but with her eyes lowered she couldn't see who he'd selected. Until she felt the nudge on her back from the guard who was making the transaction - as happened when Armenius was absent. She blinked. Oh. She glanced up very briefly and offered a small smile, reciprocated by his own. The others were herded out unceremoniously and the man cleared his throat, "Have her back unharmed. Dominus is particular." About some of them, at least. Those who lived on her floor. The poor souls on the higher floors didn't have as much luck. That was another of Armenius' improvements and she luxuriated in it...given she was one of the chosen few not given to the (most) violent of patrons. 

She gestured with her hand, "If you would follow me, dominus." She suggested and led the way slowly through the narrow corridor - now no longer leaking at least - to her cell. It had a fresh straw mattress, a blanket and a pillow and the walls had been freshly cleaned - although the curious...supposedly alluring graphic paintings still remained. She stopped awkwardly in the cell and cleared her throat. "How would you like me, dominus?" She wondered, briefly, if he found being called dominus odd, given he himself was a slave. Maybe he enjoyed it. 

 

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He followed her to her room - or at least, the room where she conducted her business. He was under no illusion that she actually slept there, although if she did, she had more privacy than he did; there was no sign that there were any more occupants than just her.

"I'm not your master - I'm not anyone's master," he said, his own Latin accented. She could see the tag around his neck, even if she couldn't read it. The curse of being a barbarian slave, he'd had a tag for eight years and they'd made sure he couldn't get it off. Nobody trusted the barbarian not to run, after all.

"Call me... call me Tiranes," he said. He'd been about to give her the name his master called him but the sudden temptation to hear his own name again was too strong. Even if she couldn't pronounce it the way he did, he hadn't heard it in such a long time. The only other person who knew it was Cinnia, who was also a foreigner here.

She was older than she'd first seemed, now that he was closer to her, though there was something young and naive about her.

"I don't want to hurt you," he told her, stepping forward to let the curtain fall behind him, a mere nod to actual privacy. What else could you expect from a place like this, of course.

This felt awkward but he summoned the part of him that still remembered what it was like to be the son of a chief, and reached to tug at the fabric wrapped around her.

"Why don't you take this off?" he suggested, reaching for his own belt at the same time. Precipitate, perhaps, but she probably couldn't be too long with a single customer, especially one so obviously a slave himself.

 

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"We call our customers dominus, sir." She replied awkwardly with a little shrug now they were alone and he'd pulled shut the thin curtain. Sounds from other cells still drifted in. "Because you are our master, for however long we are together." It was awkwardly said - she'd heard much the same thing be said far more seductively by her colleagues. But then again, Ione was an unnatural prostitute and things like seduction didn't come easily to her. Usually that was fine - or it had been when the Elysium was in significant disrepair and thus most of the clients were drunk or cheap and knew exactly what they wanted. Now it was somewhat more awkward. 

She nodded as he tugged on her toga. "Yes, dom...Yes, Ti-ran-es." She said, stumbling over his name. It was foreign, but not one she could place. She longed to ask him where it was from, where he was from - his Latin was as accented as hers - but she'd learned better than to ask questions before they act. Mens urges could seldom wait for a chatty prostitute, after all. She deftly unclipped the cheap fibula that held up her gaudy yellow toga and unwound it without hesitation. She was naked beneath it. "I..." She cleared her throat. Some women were naturally confident enough to dictate  to a man how they should take her. Ione was not such a woman, and that - she suspected - is why many of her clients chose her. "Would you like me to lay on the bed, Tiranes?" 

 

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"Is that what they tell you to say?" he asked. It sounded awkward, as if she was reciting something taught rather than something she'd thought of herself. She didn't seem the sort of person who could manage seductive very well - though that could be an act, of course. Play the naive waif and get more money out of the customers because they feel sorry for you.

The naivety was reinforced by the very next question. She didn't seem to be at all fazed by being naked while he still had his tunic on and the contrast was intriguing. He took his sandals off and pulled his own tunic over his head. She could look, if she liked, he had nothing to be ashamed of, though others might disagree. There was a collection of whip scars across his back - he had been confused and angry in his first years as a slave, fighting back because of the confusion and anger. He'd only really properly settled down with Tiberius, whose even moods and quiet calmness had done much to temper Jason.

"Yes - I suppose you don't get much time," he said. "What do they call you? You know my name, it's silly not to know yours."

 

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Ione misinterpreted, as she often did and blinked. "I...I can stay silent, if you'd rather." But yes, his thought was correct, she had been taught to say it. Like she'd been taught most of the skills she'd gained in a place like this. 

She watched as he undressed himself. Straight to business then. As per usual, really. There were seldom few clients who enjoyed discussion over the act given they were paying for the latter and not the former. She nodded at his instruction and moved to lie down on her bed, staring at the ceiling with its cracking plaster. She really should get dominus to fix it, she supposed she'd never mentioned it before. "We have as much time as you like," she offered as she glanced sideways at him, "You...pay for what you do...not how long it takes." She said with a small, gentle smile. Perhaps it was his first time in a brothel? Perhaps he didn't know the rules? She doubted she was his first lay though, judging by how little he seemed phased by her nudity. "Ione. My name is Ione." She said and watched him, intrigued, eyes skirting over the whip marks across his skin. Hers was unblemished by comparison, only the healing, neat scar at her collarbone an indication she had been mistreated as well.

 

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"That wasn't what I meant," he said. "It's nice to talk, isn't it, instead of having to be quiet." And pretend you have as much sense, feeling and emotion as a table. "I'm pretty sure that if I were to stay here for too long, they'd charge me double, even if we didn't do anything except talk," he said. "Ione. Is that your name, or just what they call you?" It was a neat distinction; the Romans probably thought of 'Jason' as being his name. He merely thought of it as a designation, what they chose to call him. His name was Tiranês and it always would be.

"Do I pay less if we just talk?" he added, curious. Probably not; that would be ridiculous - anyway, who came to a brothel to just talk? "Or if we get straight down to it, do I get kicked out as soon as we're done?" He crossed the room to sit next to her. She was actually quite pretty, in a wide-eyed sort of way, though there was a neat scar at her collarbone that looked out of place. He raised his hand to trace it, pulling back a moment before he would have touched her. Scars were personal things, after all.

"How did you get that?" he asked, gently, and his eyes widened. He knew, even before she said anything. This was another of that barber's victims - someone had said he went to a brothel and cut the girls, and hadn't they said it was the Elysium?

 

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Ione tilted her head from where it lay on the bed to study him, a softer smile on her lips than before. More genuine. "Yes...yes it's nice to talk. Most people don't." And Ione was a naturally chatty sort of girl. Again, ill suited to her profession in that regard. And then he posed a question on her name and she blinked. Nobody had ever really asked her that before. "I...was re-named. When I was bought to serve here. I'm from an island and they thought the name of a Nereid would suit..." She swallowed and ventured a question of her own, however tentatively she asked it; "Did...did your master rename you Tiranes?" Stupid girl! Nobody wants to be reminded their a slave! That was why some men spent their peculium here. It made them feel above the others. They were slaves...but at least they weren't whores.

He moved to sit down next to her and she shifted to make room on the narrow bed, peering up at him, her hands flat against her ribs. Blinking at his question. He oscillated from one extreme to another and she shrugged; "You won't be kicked out. Some men have us more than once." she offered with a small smile, trying to be comforting, but it was wiped as he almost reached to finger the neat scar left by the old client. Her eyes widened and she glanced down at it, covering it with her hand. She knew her dominus, and Spurius, didn't like it. It cheapened her. Because of it she was at risk of going to the upper floors. For the cheaper girls. She swallowed and her cheeks flushed red. "It is nothing. It is an old injury dominus." But that's not what he asked. He asked how she'd come by it and she swallowed. "From an old client. He does not come around here anymore. I...can face the other way, if you'd rather not look at it?" 

 

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"No, my name is Tiranês - Tiranes, if it's easier for you to say. My master calls me Jason." He shrugged. It was an old hurt by now, but one he would never dare to confess to Tiberius - not that his master ever really conversed with him about things like that. He still seemed to think, on some level, that once someone became a slave, it erased all their memories and everything that had gone before that point in time.

"It's not so bad, and you're very pretty," he said, in response to her offer. Taking her from behind would just put him on the same level as that soldier who'd had his way with him, in the grass, that time.

"Can I ask... the man who did it, did he come here often, and choose to cut?" he asked instead, quietly, gently, still putting pieces together even now. "Don't tell me, if you'd rather not, Ione."

 

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He admitted the name wasn't the name he was called by his master. Yet he spoke it so freely, as if it was no big deal at all to reference it. She didn't think she'd uttered her birth name since she'd arrived in Rome. She swallowed. "My parents...they called me Hilaera. But I don't mind Ione...it's pretty enough." She said with a light shrug although the gesture was awkward as she was led flat on her back, naked and staring up at him. 

But he didn't seem so offended by the scar as she thought. It was silvering at the ends now, and would one day - hopefully - fade into nothingness. She prayed for it at least. But he seemed intent to know more and she hesitated, panicked. He knew so much..."Yes. I...only had him once." She swallowed. "But he had lots of the girls...did...did you know him, sir?" She prayed not. She didn't think she could cope with that today.

 

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"No." This was awkward, with him looking down at her. He shifted until he was lying beside her, on his side with his elbow on the rough straw mattress and his head propped on his hand. "No. I met some other people he hurt." He looked into her eyes, which were wide and guileless and looked somewhat fearful. "Ione - Hilaera. He's dead, the man that did that to you. I watched him die and he will never hurt you, or anyone, ever again."

Whatever that meant to her, in this place, where plenty of other people might well hurt her physically or otherwise.

It was going to be even more awkward to go from this conversation to actual sex, but this was more important and he would pay for her time whether they did the deed or not. That would only be right, after all.

 

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She shifted, rolling to her side to face him, her breath hitching in her throat and her heart beating a rhythm furiously against her ribs. She peered up at him with those same big, deep blue eyes. And then her breath stilled, her lips falling ajar. "Dead?" she whispered. "You...you are sure?" There would be celebration across the Elysium tonight should that be the case. The man had been a shadow, lurking just out of reach. The girls and boys feared his return as much as they feared death. 

She choked and then grinned - a wide, beaming, buoyant grin that stretched across her face and alighted her face. She did what came naturally to her, and flung an arm around his propped shoulder in an awkward, half-laying hug. "Thank you." She breathed into his neck.

 

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"I saw him die," he repeated, even as she flung her arm around him and buried her head in his neck, knocking him off-balance onto his back. It couldn't be at all comfortable for her with her face pressed to the iron slave collar around his neck but she'd surface soon enough.

"He hurt other people, I met some of them." Ovinia, who he'd carried home covered in blood. Didia "I pulled a knife on his balls...". Azarion, his cousin, the pent-up ball of fury who couldn't even describe him properly because the Roman bastards had cut his tongue out years before.

"It was at the Cerealia games," he added. It was all he would say - this sweet innocent prostitute didn't need to know the way he'd died, just that he had. "We were told he used to come here and hurt the girls, but that's all." None of them could testify and so none of them had been involved any further - anyway, it sounded almost as if the brothel owner had let him do what he wanted to the girls, so there was very little chance of him testifying.

 

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She blinked and pushed herself up so she was kneeling next to him, embarrassed by how overcome she'd become but...the relief that washed through her had been almost breathtaking. That  there were others...she sighed, eyes crumpled with pain. "I am sorry there were others. They did not deserve it. I..." She swallowed and sighed with a shake of her head. "I am glad he is gone. Painfully, I should hope." she added, more quietly as she knelt there, awkwardly looking at him. 

"You had a hand in his undoing?" she asked, her fingers brushing his hair softly. "I can thank you in only one way really..." She offered a small chuckle.

 

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Their positions were swiftly reversed as she knelt up to look down at him.

"Nobody deserved what he did to them, Ione," he said. "Nobody. Not them. Not you. And yes, it was. Exactly what a coward like him deserved."

Tiberius had more than repaid Jason's faith in him, in the end. There had been a horrible few moments when it had seemed as if his master would insist on dragging it through the courts, and then he'd offered the choice that Jason had hoped he would when he'd suggested taking the matter to him directly.

"I was one, there were others," he said. He was here, they were not, and it was only by pure chance that he'd found one of the girls the monster had hurt. None of the others were at all likely to find themselves here, though. He smiled as her fingers brushed through his hair, snagging a little on one of the two tiny plaits that kept his hair out of his eyes.

He supposed any other man would demanded that she show him.

 

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"There were people looking for him." She smiled, more to herself than to Jason. "All this time. We thought we were alone." She gave a sort of a limp shrug and sighed, peering down at him as her fingers caught the small braids in his hair. She'd never seen a Roman man with anything of the sort. Nor even from a foreigner, although she knew precious few. 

"You have my gratitude." She said with a softer voice, her accented Latin calm in the chaos of the Elysium. Even now, at this odd time, waves of sounds filtered through into the room from other cells. "Take it how you wish, Tiranes." 

 

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He could not entirely dismiss the fact that Ione was not here from choice, but he had no intention of forcing her to do anything - he had been forced, once, and while it was surely different for women and men, he was not the sort that would ever be happy to make someone do that unless they wanted to.

And yet he was here. Surrounded by sounds of flesh meeting flesh, and the pants, groans and cries that naturally accompanied the act. He sat up again, only to gently press Ione down to the straw-filled palliasse, one hand on her chest and one on her back, until she was lying down with him kneeling above her.

He gently nudged her knees apart and pushed in, leaning down to press his lips to hers, ignoring the small voice in the back of his head that tried to inform him he probably didn't want to kiss her when she more than likely used her mouth on some of her customers.

 

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  • Sara changed the title to Same Old, Same Old [M]

She allowed herself to be softly pushed down to the mattress with more tenderness than she could usually expect. She opened her legs as directed and then stifled a gasp as he pressed himself into her with no preamble. It was not unusual - men rarely considered the discomfort it might give their women, but despite her months here, she'd never gotten used to it. She stilled for a moment, even as he kissed her. 

She pulled away from his kiss, nudging her face to the side of his instead so she could stare up at the ceiling. She tried to regain her breath although it was hurried. When she did, she wrapped an arm around his neck, fingers splaying across his back. She'd heard (and seen) the other girls and had over the last few months tried her very best to mimic them. She moaned what she thought was a convincing sound of pleasure and moved to hook her leg over his hip.

 

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Jason wasn't interested in forcing her to do anything. The problem was that his body didn't agree, it had been too long and he was too pent-up to be able to push off her and sit up, although he should do that thing, pay, dress and walk out.

The moan broke the spell and he sat up, trying to calm his breathing and calm his heart-rate down.

"I'm forcing you. I don't want to. I've been... it happened to me, once, I don't want to do that to anyone. I don't need to - I don't need you to pretend."

Someone less observant would probably never have noticed, or cared, but Jason had survived eight years of slavery mostly because he was observant.

"I don't want you to hate me," he added, though in a few days' time he would probably have merged into the mix of all her customers and she wouldn't remember him at all. "How about we just talk?"

 

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Ione was adjusting to the discomfort right as he pulled away and moved to sit bolt upright. She choked and pushed herself up on her forearms to stare at him, confused. But only for a moment before he explained. 

“I…” She stilled her words, choosing not to interject and instead let him finished. It had happened to him. He understood. She glanced at herself, naked, on her back beneath him. He understood what it felt like to have no agency at all, not even over your body and what was done to it. She swallowed.

Slowly, she pulled herself to sit at the other end of the bed, pulling the blanket to cover her body. Whilst not usually shy about her body, it now felt awkward. Embarrassing. Cheap. “I…I don’t hate you.” She said quietly, shaking her head. “And…and you didn’t force me. It…it is not your fault that this is my job and I’d rather a handsome man like you, slayer of the demon with the knife than…well…anybody else who walks in here.” She offered a weak smile and shook her head. “I am not the best here, I know that but…but if we just talk and it gets back to my dominus…” She swallowed. “If I promise to do better, will that help? If I promise you I don’t mind?”

 

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How in Tabiti's name did such a sweet guileless young thing end up in a place like this? Jason pulled his own legs in to sit cross-legged at the other end of the bed from her.

"Well, you know how to flatter a man," he said with a smile. "I'm not good at this either - but that's obvious, isn't it." He would be willing to bet that the Romans had absolutely no compunction about forcing it, here or anywhere else. They hadn't conquered half the known world by being squeamish about things, after all.

"I don't want you to feel you have to fake it for me," he said. It was that more than anything that had thrown him, the realisation that she was just going to lie there and let him and pretend she liked it... Maybe he had just been too fast.

"You're pretty, you know," he said. She could maybe be very pretty, if she had a little more flesh on her bones and didn't have that slightly defeated look that seemed to hang about her. She didn't belong here - she'd do far better elsewhere, though it was unlikely she would ever have the chance to be elsewhere.

 

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“It’s not obvious.” She said with a shake of her head, “You…know what you want.” She gave him a small smile.

But she dropped her gaze as he said she didn’t need to fake it for him. Would…would he rather she just lie there silently? Some men liked to know her apathy - some twisted sort of pleasure came from it for some men…others wanted her panting and calling out their names in faked delight. Tiranes seemed to what something else altogether…for her to actually enjoy it. She swallowed. Oh sweetie…

“Oh…” She blinked up at him again, a slightly shy smile on her lips. “Thank you…I look nicer with my hair done…in the evenings.” She moved her fingers back to his cheek. “And you are very handsome, Tiranes. Do you know that?”

 

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"Well, there's the problem. I'm not entirely sure I do know what I want," he confessed with a shrug. His people were not exactly warlike invaders, carrying all before them and dominating those they conquered, after all. They were hunters and nomads, ranging free on the vast wild steppe, not conquerors imposing their will and culture wherever they planted their foot.

"And no, I did not know that," he added, smiling. That might be simple flattery, but he had not gained the impression that she knew how to lie convincingly, either in her words or her actions.

They were much closer than they were a moment ago, and her fingers traced over his face. "Have you ever enjoyed it, or has it always been a pretence?" he asked, though he didn't think he really wanted to know the answer to that question. It was too late to take it back now, though. "And if not actual sex, what else could we do that wouldn't upset your master?"

Though surely, surely, the man would rather have Jason's money and his assurance that he was happy with the service, whether that meant he'd had satisfaction or not.

 

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"You should know it." She chuckled. "I mean it." He was handsome. In a way that was almost exotic to her, although not as much as some of the slaves that worked with her here who were pulled from every corner of the Empire. His name and his accent though, likewise, were foreign in an enticing, enthralling way. 

But his question knocked the smile from her face and her thoughts out of kilter. "I..." She swallowed. She should lie, probably. Her dominus would expect her to lie - to claim that she loved her work and took pleasure in each and every man that had her. But looking at his face - so earnest, so genuinely concerned for her, she shook her head silently. "Once or twice. It is rare." She admitted with a soft little sigh. "I heard it's different, in other houses of pleasure but here...at least for the moment - although dominus is working very hard to change things - it is...not...well...the men usually only care for their own pleasure." As Jason had done. She didn't often begrudge them for it, but now the disparity was thrown into sharp relief. 

Willing a smile onto her face, she dropped her fingers from his own and sighed, shaking her head. "You...we can still...have sex. I promise it is fine. I promise."

 

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  • Sara changed the title to Same Old, Same Old [M-S]

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