Title: Ad Lib
Author: The Spike
Summary: He doesn't know what it is, this thing that burst and broke in his chest like a pot of searing oil, but it's done and he's raw inside and changed.
Disclaimer: HBO/BBC own Rome
Note: Thanks to betas jess_ka and thete1
He doesn't know what it is, this thing that burst and broke in his chest like a pot of searing oil, but it's done and he's raw inside and changed. Bruised outside too, not by the battle, but by Pullo's arm on his shoulder. There is no mark there, only a smear of Pullo's blood, but he can still feel the weight. Feel it full, although Pullo is there slumped faint against the wall and he sits here. Their arms no longer touch, but he can feel the place as if they'd been joined there to weave and stumble through the streets and were now ripped apart. Painless, but not. Like pulling off a bloody tunic crusted to unwounded flesh.
Pain. Not pain. Everything turned inside out. There were wounds. Real ones. Bruises. Pullo's blood was real. But Lucius heart-hammer, Vulcan's tool, will numb him for a while. He'll not hurt from those wounds until morning. Why not this, too? Why does he feel this woundless pain now?
Pullo stirs and Lucius looks over to see those unnatural eyes are watching him. Blue eyes, Gaul-tainted as his own, but Pullo is a bastard son of noone but Rome.
"You--" Pullo croaks, voice like a rope pulled tight across gallows wood.
"Shut it," Lucius says. It sounds angry. He *is* angry, knows it, but it's buried yet and he'll need it if they're to talk. To fix... this. He expects an argument but Pullo's eyes just close. Downward sweep of lashes like... Like a slave, he wants to think, but he thinks of Niobe's eyes closing that same way as he enters her.
It fills him with sick fear. What has he done? He has declared war upon Caesar is what he has done. They will die for this. His future, his family; all a-ruin. His regret is limitless but the fear is something else. He felt it before he acted. Felt it in his gut even before he turned Mascius away at the trial.
He's tried to mark the beginning of it, stake it out for the rest of his mind to catch up to, but he can't. He remembers Pullo's fall into the dirt, remembers being in motion without having thought to do so. Just like in the thick of battle -- his legs, his arms, always knowing which way to turn, where to shift, when to duck and strike. But again not like battle because there his thoughts were always cold and clear and here...
He did not know that he'd been weeping. Did not know what he shouted. Did not know that he could hate enough to kill with so much joy. Barely knew where he ran with Pullo draped across his shoulder like a victor's shield. All he could feel was that weight, keeping him anchored to the ground. Pullo warm and reeking and heavy as the earth.
A tickle on his cheek and Lucius swipes at it. Still wet. Sweat or blood or still more tears, but he can't feel them falling even now. Not with his eyes, not with his calloused fingers. Only through the ache in his chest that cuts him with each indrawn breath. Like a child's weeping after the skinned knee is salved -- unreasoned, unnecessary, unstoppable.
Pullo's face is wet too, glistening in the light of the lone candle's flicker. Lucius raises his hand to Pullo's cheek but his fingers, dry-cracked and hard, tell him nothing. He brings them to his lips, tastes only the strong iron tang of a sword's hilt. The way his fingers always taste. The undertaint of every bite of food, of Niobe's perfumed skin, her breast in his mouth. Iron and sweetness--
Pullo's eyes flick open for just a moment, close quickly. Cast down.
"Look at me," Lucius says. The eyes flick up, at his command. They are rapt. Reverent. Lucius almost looks behind him. "Don't talk." he says and leans in.
Titus Pullo's mouth is slack, soft under his, bitter to the taste. No salt of tears but something... There is no flinch, no resistance. He brings his hands to the sides of Pullo's head to anchor him against the wall, shifts his weight.
"Don't talk," he says again, against that yeilding mouth "Don't move. Don't breathe." He moves in close again, sealing his mouth over Pullo's mouth, his tongue sweeping Pullo's tongue -- more bitterness there, the sharp edges of his teeth -- his lips move, head tilts. A kiss.
This is a kiss. The thing inside him cracks, shakes open like the earth under Neptune's hand, heat like earth's blood coursing through him, belly to groin. He groans, thrusts, drinks at Pullo's mouth. Rules his subject, his slave, his... His -- until he feels Pullo break beneath him with a terrible, anguished sound and Pullo is kissing back. Arms coming up around his back. Disobedient to the end.
He wants this. Wants this. This fire, this salt, the sweat and blood and tears -- the grunt and jerk he gets when his teeth sink into the hollow of shoulder and neck. The strained line of muscled throat as Pullo throws his head back in sudden, helpless release. The sound of his name: "Lucius Vorenus" gasped out, voiceless against his mouth. The look in those eyes when he pulls away -- not worship, not fear, but something soft that cuts him deeper than any blade.
He wants to see those eyes fall shut the way Niobe's do and open. To ride into battle with what he sees there and lie beside it at night. He wants this god-given gift that is more likely a curse, that will only bring him death. This thing that he dares not put any name to but 'Pullo'
He wants it anyway. Because it is his.
Disclaimer:Characters (real and fictional) aren't mine, no money is made with these stories and history isn't changed. Damn.