Summary: “And you?” Brutus asked. “You have made the same choices as I.”
Disclaimer: HBO/BBC owns Rome
Cicero hadn´t thought about the humiliation. Well, truthfully, perhaps he had, but it had seemed paltry, insignificant in comparison to the overshadowing fear of imminent demise. Ah, but what could he say about the surrender? Only that it was inevitable, as the fates spun and time flowed. The world had worked its way to this point, this specific place: to the decimated remnants of Cicero and Brutus´ armies, staggering into Caesar´s camp, in exhaustion and defeat, in abject shame and despair.
So it seemed, that men were merely ants in the eyes of the gods. Of course, he would blame the gods for their defeat it seemed that victory was certain, but Caesar had eluded them again and again, against the odds.
Cicero gripped the wine glass still in his hand. He had found it in the tent to which Marc Antony had showed him; for a moment, he had entertained the possibility of poison, but the stark truth was that Cicero was hardly important enough to waste good poison.
He sat here, back to the rough cot, on the ground. A tree root dug into his leg, but he hardly noticed.
Cicero had watched Brutus at the table with Caesar´s soldiers. He had watched as Brutus´ hand trembled, as he anxiously ripped the bread into crumbs, as he picked up his wine and set it down again without taking a drink. Cicero had wondered if he broadcasted that same anxiety. He was not a soldier; he was a politician. His virtue was not in hiding emotions, but showing them, swaying an audiences´ hearts with his own truths.
Much good that would do him now. Not only was he fairly intoxicated, but all it seemed he could feel was a helpless rage against his own situation.
Cicero heard footsteps enter the tent, and looked up to see a figure blot out the dull moonlight. A fine figure, a thin face Brutus, it had to be. Brutus,’ Cicero greeted. Come in. Have a patch of ground. Make yourself at home.’ When the words escaped, Cicero spared a moment of regret for the bitter irony.
He heard more than saw Brutus take a seat beside him. Their shoulders brushed.
Cicero rubbed his eyes. A nasty headache had started to take hold. Not from the wine, but from everything else.
You´re drunk,’ he heard Brutus say lowly.
Not nearly so much as I would like,’ Cicero returned.
Cicero felt Brutus´ hesitation. Is it really wise?’
Perhaps. Perhaps not,’ Cicero admitted. After all, we are among friends here, are we not?’
So Caesar says,’ Brutus murmured softly. Brutus turned to Cicero; the moonlight left light shadows across his face. Let me have that,’ indicating the wine cup.
Cicero placed the cup on the narrow patch of ground between. Brutus took the cup, and seemed to hesitate. He drank deep. Cicero heard the cup, now empty, thunk onto the ground on the far side of Brutus.
It seems,’ Cicero began, as though there should be some sort of oration. A grand ceremony, don´t you think, to celebrate the end of honor.’
Brutus didn´t reply.
That man,’ Cicero ground out, will be the death of the Republic.’
Do not speak that way!’ Brutus had turned to Cicero in a flash of anger. He holds our lives in his hands, you know that as well as I.’
You, particularly,’ said Cicero, did a commendable job of stepping back into those hands as though nothing had happened.’
Brutus looked away. He said so himself,’ he told Cicero through a set jaw. He left me with an impossible choice.’
Cicero regarded Brutus for a time. Tis not me you wish to justify your actions to.’
I have already justified my actions to Caesar,’ said Brutus stiffly. He was satisfied.’
It was not Caesar I spoke of.’
Brutus´ eyes turned cold. Explain yourself.’
Cicero realized he probably wouldn´t have begun this track of conversation were he entirely sober, but he slipped that thought aside and focused back on Brutus. An impossible choice,’ Cicero echoed. Between a friend and the Republic. All you have done is choose the easy way out, and all you have accomplished is making no choice at all.’
And you?’ Brutus asked. You have made the same choices as I.’
I chose the Republic,’ said Cicero. Then I chose life.’ He toasted an imaginary glass to the heavens. And a good life it will be.’
Brutus looked away, disgusted, no doubt. Or ashamed. Though shame was just disgust, wasn´t it, only turned inward instead of outward?
Brutus broke the silence. We should have stayed in Rome.’
Caesar should not have crossed the Rubicon,’ Cicero returned. He should not have won the battle. We should have committed suicide as nobility demands.’
This was greeted with further lack of response from Brutus. Cicero tipped his had backwards against the cot, unwilling to spend the strength required to keep it upright.
Marc Antony was watching me during the dinner,’ said Brutus suddenly.
Cicero reluctantly lifted his head again. The pain behind his temples was getting more and more acute. As an enemy?’ Cicero asked.
Brutus shook his head once, his eyes firmly fixed on a point in the earth inside the tent.
Cicero sat up further. Has he ’ Cicero stopped, unwilling to go further.
Another short head shake. He has made no overt action,’ said Brutus, slightly stressing overt, but I fear for his intentions.’
It wasn´t right, thought Cicero to himself. It wasn´t right that even in their humiliation, those to which they surrendered would have the power to bring them further down.
Cicero,’ said Brutus softly.
Cicero looked up to see the moonlight glinting off of Brutus´ eyes. For once in his life of oratory, Cicero´s voice failed him.
Brutus leaned in, slowly, until their noses were about to brush, until they were sharing breath. His eyes flicked, from Cicero´s mouth to his eyes, and crossed that last hairsbreadth, brushing his lips across Cicero´s.
Brutus backed off suddenly, as though he were afraidof something.
Cicero clumsily slipped his hand around the back of Brutus neck and drew him back in. Brutus tried to pull away, but Cicero dragged the kiss on, licked into Brutus´ mouth. With a soft noise in the back of his throat, Brutus seemed to uncoil; he opened to Cicero, and fell into Cicero´s lap.
Gods, Brutus,’ Cicero murmured
and Brutus´ hand slipped in to undo his toga.
Naked, they fell down on the cot together, Brutus sprawled on top of Cicero. Cicero slid his hand inwards from Brutus´ hip; Brutus made a sort of desperate, needy noise.
A simple flip, and Cicero was on top, biting at Brutus´ pulse point to the noise of Brutus´ choked groans. Cicero reached down and took Brutus in hand.
Please,’ Brutus whispered.
Later, when Cicero kissed Brutus though a convulsive release and after Brutus slid down to take Cicero in his mouth, Cicero would remember the way Brutus fit into him perfectly, the way they touchedas though they couldn´t get enough of the other. When he tasted blood in his mouth from a bitten lip (they had to stay quiet, couldn´t do for the guards to hear), he would remember the way Brutus looked up at him, as though he was the only one in the world. Cicero would remember how the realities of the camp seemed to dissolve around them.
After, Can you forgive me?’ Brutus asked, in Cicero´s ear. For the decisions I´ve made?’
Cicero´s stomach twisted. He regarded carefully look of desperation in the lines of Brutus´ face, and a wry smile touched his mouth. Of course,’ said Cicero. After all, he had made those same choices.
Brutus buried his face in Cicero´s neck, and Cicero inhaled deeply.
It was a time before Cicero realized that he had felt his rage drain away. It had been replaced by something quite different.
Disclaimer:Characters (real and fictional) aren't mine, no money is made with these stories and history isn't changed. Damn.