Title: The Cry of Eagles
Author: SGDiva (Bindingdiva)
Summary: Primus Pilus Ionnas Joachim Aquila, the leader of the First Legion returns to his home city of Rubrifontes after a hard campaign in Brittania. All he wants is to rest and recoup. But a gift from an old friend turns his world upside down.
Word Count: 12395
Disclaimer: Not mine, because if they were I would cover them in chocolate and lick them until I was sick.
Written For: gategremlyn
Prompt: Two (2) Requirements:
1. Alternate timeline, alternate universe or historical AU
2. One character angry at the other.
Optional Request: Rain
Restriction #1: No Death fic
Restriction #2: No kink
Warnings: Explicit Slash, Some talk of historical slavery. I have played fast and loose with historical fact, Latin and the geography of the Roman Empire all in the name of authors licence, although I did do some research. There are a couple of lines in the final section you will all recognise from 5:19 ‘Menace’.
A/N: Many, many thanks to annejack who as always was the consumate beta, editor, and pom-pom waving cheerleader. So virtual chocs, kittens and champagne go to her for her love and patience. Also thanks to gategremlyn for a great prompt. I think I got everything in you wanted, along with a few manips and pics I did. I hope you enjoy it 😀
The sun was just a faint gleam of golden light on the horizon. The rosy hues of morning hit the sculptured stone of the city gate; Porta Stellarum – The Gate of Stars. Its unusual circular form stood proud and commanding overlooking the city port of Rubrifontes.
Legend told that anyone crossing the gate threshold when the sky showed through it, in a cloudless brilliant blue, would step into a journey of untold adventure and riches, which would change their lives forever. But those who were more pragmatic argued that so close to the coast of Germania, a cloudless day was almost an impossibility, as were the promises the myth made.
Still, it was a pretty story that fired the blood of the many young men of the city, whose spirit pulled against the bonds of family and duty. Of those who stepped through the Gate, few returned the same, that much was true. The garrison in the city meant many left as soldiers; members of the legions fighting in all corners of the Empire. Many did not return and those who did were honed; carved into new forms by the fighting and death they had seen
They left as boys and came back as men. And those who fought their way back home did it with one name spilling from their mouths and ringing in their ears.
Ionnas Joachim Aquila.
The Primus pilus of the First Legion; hero of a hundred battles, saviour of ten thousand lives and leader of the fiercest fighting force the Empire had ever known. He never stood down from a fight, asked nothing of his men in battle he would not do himself, and had never knowingly left an injured man behind, even returning alone to rescue those others had forsaken.
He was Argentum Aquila; the Silver Eagle and all who knew him, honoured him.
“Sir, Princeps Teal’c is in the outer chamber.”
“Show him in, Cam. Bring the new wine from my vineyard and some honey cakes. Also tell Vala I’ll wear full ceremonial armour for my visit to Garrison Headquarters this afternoon.”
Cameron turned and hurried from the room. His master was fair but expected to be obeyed, quickly and efficiently. He turned into the outer chamber and bowed deferentially to the massive centurion, who waited impassive and still, his dark skin showcasing his impressive muscles. As the morning sun burnished the ritual scar on his forehead, it appeared to be made of gold.
“Princeps, you may enter at your leisure.”
He watched as the soldier left the room, his every movement measured and graceful. Cam’s heart was fluttering in his chest. He’d always had a crush on the African. He saw in him everything he wished to be; a handsome body, a strong fighter, an important man but more than that…Free.
“One day, Cameron Mitchell of the Clan McIntire…One day.”
“Teal’c, it has been an age my friend.”
“O’ne’yal, that is because you played with the Syrian army for far too long.”
“How many times have I told you to call me Jac. The name you call me…You tell me it’s a term of honour in your language, but for all I know you could be calling me a horses ass!”
Jac laughed, a deep belly laugh. This hulk of a man, a freed gladiator from Rome, had the driest sense of humour and it tickled Jac every time. He gestured to the piled cushions around the low table, and followed Teal’c into a half-reclined position.
Cam bustled into the room and waved at three serving girls, who poured rich red wine into large clear glasses and slid a heaving plate of sweet sticky honey cakes onto the table. Under Jac’s benevolent gaze, they worked quickly and efficiently, then, at his nod, were gone.
“So, what news?”
“There is much news,” the larger man agreed. “But I came with some in particular. Master Bra’tac has received a new group of slave/trainees for the Forum and there is one he thought you might like to take a look at.”
Jac raised an eyebrow in surprise. He’d never taken any interest in gladiator instruction. There was enough to do training his own men, and if he was honest, he found the wasting of life for the pleasure of the baying masses somewhat obscene. He knew he went against his peers in those thoughts, and would be sneered at for his views, but he was never one to pander to others for political gain.
“The man is a puzzle to Bra’tac. He has the heart of a lion, he fights like a soldier, and yet his mind is that of a scholar.” Teal’c took a swallow of his wine and raised his glass in tribute as the rich flavour hit his palette. “He is also beautiful, or so my Master says.”
“He is not your Master any more, Princeps. You fought your way out of the games and into your exalted position as my second. You are no ones slave.”
“You are correct, O’ne’yal, and I will be always grateful you saw potential in me and offered the hand of friendship.”
Jac sipped slowly from his glass and thought on what his friend had said. The people closest to him knew he was a lover of men and he favoured those with the very qualities Teal’c had listed. Ionnas Aquila had a strong, vibrant personality with an edge honed by war and death. He was known by all for his strategic skills, but few realised how truly intelligent the Primus Pilus, the First Spear was. He could run rings around the greatest thinkers in the city, but chose not to. He didn’t want vapid, soft lovers in his bed, but he also didn’t sleep with his own men, recognising it could be seen as favouritism. Rome may have been built on nepotism and corruption, but Jac wanted no part of it. It was his personal credo and one that had him trusted by those who loved him and detested by those who did not.
For as long as he could remember he’d been looking for his ideal; for the man that would challenge him in every arena of his life. He also, in his deepest fantasies, wanted someone who he could love and would love him back in a true partnership. He had come close a few times, but either death or boredom had ended the fantasy.
It had been a long and brutal campaign in Syria and he was tired and worn. ‘Maybe it’s time to take a breath and relax for a while’, he mused. The Legion was standing down for at least four months and this was the ideal time to indulge himself. If this young slave were not the one, then he would allow himself to look around and see what else was available.
Having made up his mind, he plucked a cake from the dish and popped it into his mouth. He nodded as he chewed the sweet treat.
“As long as Bra’tac won’t mind me turning up to his training camp in full regalia, then we should go together, before I attend the Garrison Commander for debriefing. You can give me the benefit of your experience as to whether he would better serve in my household, or fighting in the games. As to whether he would fit in my bed…Well that would be a matter for me alone I think.
Teal’c’s smile was broad and very white against his ebony skin. “I have no expertise to give in that respect, as you well know, my friend.”
Teal’c had two wives both of whom were small, fair, and very feisty. Samantha and Sarah were Britons, who Teal’c had brought back with him when he returned from his posting there. Jac also knew he had his eye on Vala, a dark haired beauty in Jac’s own household. The Primus had a mind to gift the woman to his second before too long. Actually he would be glad to be rid of her. She was promiscuous, light-fingered and generally not to be trusted. He was sure she would be a…challenging addition to the Princeps household, but one he would no doubt relish.
Rubrifontes was a garrison town and its harbour gave the Legion a staging post for travel to all parts of the Empire. It also offered a trade route for the goods and services required by the huge numbers of soldiers and their retinue. So the sights and sounds of soldiers moving through the town were constant and unremarkable.
However, the Primus and his second, making their way through the city streets in full regalia was a sight that few could resist. Their gleaming cuirass, deeply engraved with intricate ornamentation, protected muscled bodies chiselled by war. Sheathed Spatha, sharp and deadly long swords, hung from the complicated harness of leather that also held a Pugio – a small dagger, but as great a threat as any other weapon, when wielded by these masters of war. They were the epitome of seasoned warriors, fierce and implacable.
Everyone stopped and stared; most with expressions of pride that such men were theirs; shining examples of what fighting men could, and should be. Some called out in greeting and were in turn acknowledged, with the ready smile and approachability they had come to expect from their heroes.
The two men marched into the cool atrium of Bra’tac’s establishment and were met by a house slave, who bowed deeply.
“The Master requests you meet him out on the training grounds. If you would follow me.”
Jac unbuckled the chinstrap of his helmet and removed it, stowing it beneath his arm with studied ease. With a nod to Teal’c they continued through the outer courtyard and into the wider, training arena.
The vista before them was full of action and excitement. Thirty or more men were engaged in all kinds of exercise. Some hefted weapons, fighting hard and dirty against their fellow trainees. Another group were casting nets over stationary dummies whilst wielding huge tridents. Others were engaged in hand-to-hand combat.
In the middle of the arena, seated on a large chair, like an emperor on his throne, was Bra’tac. The old man was still strong and Jac had no doubt he could best any of the men on the field in a fair fight. His face was pockmarked, and bore the same ritual scarification as Teal’c, both men being of the same tribe. A beaten metal scull cap covered his bald head and his expression was dark and forbidding. The trainees learned very quickly that he was not a man to be trifled with. But they also learned that he was fair; after all, he had been where they were now and escaped. He trained them hard, but well, offering them the skills they needed to give them a chance of surviving against almost insurmountable odds.
At their approach, the old man smiled broadly, and suddenly his whole demeanour changed into that of a mischievous child, all twinkling eyes, and affable grin.
“Primus. Welcome, welcome.” Bra’tac moved gracefully across the grounds, no longer concerned with what was going on around him. “And Teal’c, my brother. How fare you both?”
“I am well, Master.” Teal’c intoned.
“Bra’tac, you old bastard.” Jac, slapped the man on the shoulder and was impressed by the sheer muscle mass hidden under his robes. “Don’t sound so surprised to see me. You knew I’d come as soon as Teal’c gave me your intriguing message.”
Jac tried not to let the old man see him surreptitiously casting his gaze around the men, who had stopped their training to look at them. His first cursory glance hadn’t highlighted anyone he would be remotely interested in and he couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.
Bra’tac smirked at him. It seemed he hadn’t been so stealthy after all.
“He is not training this morning. You are correct. I knew you would be here at some point today, so I sent him to the baths and then set him to work on the ledgers. My business has never been so organised. I have a mind to maybe keep him.”
There was a twinkle in the man’s eye, which told Jac he was being teased.
“Yes, yes, he is a paragon of every virtue.” Jac bantered back. “Come on, as much as I’d like to waste time chattering, I have a rather important debrief to get to with Tribune Georgius at Garrison Headquarters, and he won’t be best pleased if the only excuse I have for being late is that I was looking over a ‘beautiful’ slave. Especially if he gets wind it’s a man. I’ll never live it down.
As they walked out of the blazing sun and into the cooler courtyard, Jac noted the varying expressions of the men around him, as they moved back to their training. Some looked awed and cowed, and quickly scurried away. They wouldn’t last long in the games and would simply be lion fodder. Others posed and preened, as if hoping he might take a fancy to them and whisk them away from the almost certain death they faced. A few though…caught his gaze and looked back with spirit and fire in their eyes. They were the ones who had a chance; who Jac wished he could free to add to his fighting forces. These were men to be reckoned with, and the wastefulness of using them as entertainment made Jac’s gut grow hot with anger.
The soft caress of breeze and murmur of the fountains through the courtyard, gentled his mood a little and by the time they were seated on stone benches around the pool full of little darting fish, his smile was once again easy and genuine. It was helped along by a dark, yeasty and satisfying tankard of Bra’tac’s foaming beer, for which he was rightly famous. It was refreshing in a way wine never was
He’d begun to relax fully when Bra’tac clapped his hands and told the serving girl to fetch ‘Danihel’. ‘Ah’, thought Jac, ‘So now I have a name’. He wasn’t sure what to expect, although he trusted the old man’s opinion on what made a beautiful man; Bra’tac wasn’t averse to taking his trainees to his bed.
What Jac didn’t expect was to be rocked in his seat by blue, blue eyes and golden skin that caressed well developed muscles. The man in front of him was indeed beautiful; glorious in his perfection and it was all Jac could do to keep his mouth from falling open and his cock from boring a hole in his loincloth. The younger man was dressed in a rough tunic and had not shaved that morning. This unkempt look was not one favoured by most in Rome. But Jac liked it; wanted his bed-mates to look like men, not pampered boys.
And this was no vapid slave. Danihel’s body was a work of art. Not over-muscled but sculptured to a fine degree. His skin was smooth and almost hairless and it was obvious a fine layer of oil had been smoothed over it at the baths. His hair was short, a sandy brown and with his fair skin, Jac found it difficult to pinpoint his original nationality. Perhaps he was a Frank or Burgund
Danihel’s eyes were a deep crystal blue and seemed to hold knowledge and wisdom in them far too deep for his years. Jac found it difficult to look away, wanting to delve into their depths and seek out everything about him.
With a great effort of will, Jac stood and gestured towards the path around the rectangular courtyard. It was long and wide, paved with fine mosaics of glittering glass tessurae; the sinuous snakes in the borders seemed to be piercing the necks and throats of heroic gladiators in the throes of defending and attacking.
“Walk with me, Danihel.”
The young man quickly covered his shock at the courteousness of Jac’s request and nodded. He had, no doubt received little in the way of consideration from those in ‘higher’ station, Jac thought. But if the Primus had anything to do with it, that was going to change.
As Jac began to walk along the pathway the slave settled into a position at his left shoulder and several paces behind. Jac gave a wry smile at his own lack of recognition. Of course the man would not, could not walk alongside him without express permission.
“Dani,” he repeated, this time making his wishes known with a pointing finger at the place next to him. “Walk with me. I wish to talk to you and it will be very difficult with you back there.”
The blush that smeared the slaves cheeks was utterly gorgeous and Jac almost stumbled at the flush of ‘want’ that raced through his body and into his loins. His cock was beyond hard, and he was glad Cam had tied his subligaculum tightly that morning, otherwise walking would have been well nigh impossible. Jac snorted as he realised all his wartime enemies could have easily won their battles if they had just displayed this beautiful slave in front of him.
“You have my permission to speak freely, and I expect you to be truthful with me. I have no time for men who tell me what they think I want to hear.”
“Then you have no time for the Senate, I take it.”
Jac stopped and looked at the slave, before laughing uproariously. “No, no time for that group of chattering wives.”
He saw Danihel’s shoulders relax slightly and realised that had been a test. The young man had been ready to take blows of reprimand for that comment.
“Master Bra’tac tells me you are an intelligent man, a man of learning and letters. I would have you be scribe for my household, keeping my ledgers and directing my other house slaves. Also, he assures me you know how to fight. I can see you are strong, and work hard to keep your body supple and firm. You would follow me to battle, and I would expect that you could defend yourself, both by sword, and by hand. More than that, though, you are also beautiful.”
The slave looked a little surprised at the final comment and for a moment, Jac’s heart fell. Still he was a brave man and did not ever flinch from the difficult decisions.
“I would take you for my slave, but I would have other duties for you that I would not force on you.”
“You wish me for your body slave,” Danihel nodded, a small frown marring his brow. “I am a slave, sir. I have no choices and you could force this on me if you wish. Why would you give me options?”
“Because I have never had an unwilling body in my bed. I do not force any man to lie with me, slave or free. So the choice is indeed yours. I will take you from your Masters house and install you in mine, but only if you are willing.”
They walked in silence for a few moments as Danihel chewed on his lower lip, deep in thought. Finally he came to a halt and turned to face the Primus.
“I have not ever lain with a man, but I have also never enjoyed lying with women. I fear I would disappoint the great Argentum Aquila, as I have no skills in the bedchamber. But, sir, I find myself greatly excited by the idea of lying with you.” In a show of bravery, the slave reached for Jac’s hand, which the centurion gave willingly, and Dani pressed it to his groin, where an impressive erection was straining at the leather loincloth beneath his rough tunic. Jac squeezed gently and was gratified by the low moan it elicited. The younger man’s pupils were dilated, and his plump lips open in an inviting ‘o’ that Jac could not resist. He leaned forward, still pressing lightly on the straining cock in his hand, and kissed Danihel’s mouth for the first time.
‘By the gods, a virgin’, Jac thought as sensation zinged through his body, ‘I have never felt like this from just a simple kiss before’. He reluctantly drew away and smiled to see the slave’s lips follow the movement. “I will enjoy showing you all the joys of lying with a man, Dani. But there is business to be done before I can enjoy the many pleasures your body can give and be given.” Jack straightened his shoulders and lifted his eyebrow at the adorable pout on the other man’s mouth.
Jac turned to see both Bra’tac and Teal’c smirking at him. He shook his head and walked back to the pool, with the slave, a little dazed, walking a few steps behind him.
“Danihel will be joining my household, Master Bra’tac. Send him along to the Villa Aquila Nidum this afternoon and you may call on me later in the week to discuss payment.
Bra’tac held up his hand. “No, my old friend, there will be no payment. You have done more for me, and the people of Rubrifontes, than any petty politician or rich patrician. He is my gift to you. Be happy with him.” There was something in the old man’s expression that unsettled Jac, but he had no time to question the Jaffa warrior’s motives.
“Come, Teal’c. We still have to get to Garrison Headquarters and you know the Tribune hates lateness.”
The two soldiers placed their plumed helmets on their heads and marched off out of the courtyard. The Primus had to work hard not to look back at the slave, needing to cool off a little before meeting with his commanding officer, but it was a hard won battle. As they walked into the atrium he heard the two men they had left behind conversing in the language of the Jaffa. ‘Not only a clever, beautiful slave’, Jac pondered, ‘But adept in languages too’. There was much to find out about his Danihel and he was going to enjoy every minute of it.
The meeting with Tribune Georgius was as long and tiresome as Jac had feared. The man was a good commander who had been a soldier himself. But he was mired by the witless whining of the politicians who styled themselves his betters. So they had gone into every tedious detail of the campaign in Syria, right down to the supplies of dried fruits and the wages they were paying the Legion’s bakers.
Still now it was done and Jac had a sanctioned four months of rest. He had worked hard to keep his excitement under wraps during his debriefing, but now he was home he could feel the need rising. He wanted to bed his new slave as soon as possible, but was aware the inexperienced young man might need a little gentling.
‘A Virgin,’ his memory supplied and he felt his cock give a lurch at the thought.
He looked down at Cam, who was unstrapping the metal greaves from his calves. The boy was a willing and eager slave, who did everything asked of him, but little more. He had no real initiative and that made it difficult for Jack to leave the household in his care when he wasn’t there. A good friend of his, Lucius Ferretti oversaw all his affairs whilst he was gone on campaign but it wasn’t ideal. Jac was hoping Danihel would be able to take on all those duties with little problem. This hiatus would give him an ideal opportunity to see how the man coped with the pressures of running such a large and important house. In the meantime, Jac had been making plans for the slave currently undressing him.
“Cameron, I have news for you.”
The slave looked at his master with some trepidation. “Yes , sir.”
“There is a new slave joining the household today. He is a gift from Master Bra’tac. He will take on the duties as my body slave and major-domo.”
Cam looked distraught. “Master, if I have done anything to displease you…”
Jac shook his head and placed a hand on the young man’s shoulder. “That is not the case. In fact I have a mind to reward you for your good service. I spoke to Princeps Teal’c today and he is agreeable to taking you into his house.”
Cam tried hard not to show his distress. It was a slave’s lot to go wherever his master wished. But it was a demotion to be sent from the house of the Primus…the Argentum Aquila no less…to become the slave of his second in command. He was so upset he almost missed the next statement.
“The Princeps has agreed to begin training you in hand-to-hand fighting and Gladius technique. If you prove yourself adept, then when the Legion is called to fight again you will join us, as a Tirone – a soldier in training.”
Cameron’s heart was beating so hard in his chest, he feared it would burst out. He could only be offered such a thing if he was…libertus…Free!
“However,” Jac continued, “Teal’c will not be an easy taskmaster. He will expect nothing but your best. But if you work hard then he will treat you fairly and will make you libertini.”
Cam pressed his closed fist to his heart and swallowed hard at the lump constricting his throat. “I will be everything he asks of me, Master. Thank you for your kindness. I will not let you down.”
“You can thank me when you are stiff from hours of swinging a heavy blade around your head and filthy with dirt and sweat.” Jac’s eyes crinkled a little in the corners, making him so handsome that Cam fell a little in love with his Master…his ex-master, he reminded himself.
“You will welcome our new arrival into the house this afternoon, and tomorrow you can begin to show him the ropes of the household. You will join the Princeps house in three days, so make sure you have all the main areas covered by then. Oh, and let Vala know she will be going with you. Teal’c has a particular role in mind for her, too, I think.”
Cam had a good idea what that role was, and he was sure Vala was going to have a rude awakening when she met the Princeps wives. They were definitely the ones in charge in that household.
“Now, get on with your work, boy, before I change my mind.” There was a twinkle in Jac’s eye that belied his sharp reprimand, and it was with a light heart that Cam set to the task of removing the Primus’ armour.
The rest of Jac’s day was taken up with business; both for the Legion, his own house and his farms and vineyard. He hardly noticed the hours passing as he immersed himself in the resupply of an army and the problems of grapevine moth. There was a strange fluttering in his gut that he attributed to hunger, but even his favourite sweetmeats did not seem to take the feeling away.
Just before coena, the afternoon meal, a rather flushed looking serving girl bustled into Jac’s chambers.
“Sir, Master Bra’tac is in the outer hall, with a slave. They came through the main doors, sir!”
Her shock and disgruntlement at such a lapse in etiquette almost made Jac laugh out loud, but he held it in and nodded his acceptance of the visitors.
Jac raised his hand as Bra’tac strode into the room, but all his attention was taken up by the man following behind him. Danihel had obviously gone back to the baths and been washed and pampered within an inch of his life. The once stubbled cheeks were now smooth, showing off the high cheekbones and square jaw. His deep blue eyes shone with intelligence and inquisitiveness. He was dressed in a simple cotton tunic, but the cloak around his shoulders was a sapphire blue, which made his eyes sparkle even more. Long shapely legs ended with a pair of leather sandals encasing slender feet.
“Primus.” The amusement in Bra’tac’s voice told him this was not the first time the old man had tried to get his attention.
“Yes, yes, old man. By the gods, you are so impatient.” Jac moved towards the Gladiator Master and clasped his arm in a warriors grasp. “It has been too long since you have graced my house. I was about to eat…will you join me?”
Once again, Jac found his eyes drawn to the still figure of Danihel. The lively intelligence was obvious as the young man’s gaze flitted around the well-appointed room, lingering on the wall filled with shelf upon shelf of scrolls. There was a look of deep longing in Danihel’s eyes and Jac was encouraged. Bra’tac had obviously not exaggerated the slave’s interest in all things intellectual.
Jac clapped his hands twice. Cam appeared at the doorway and took in the scene with a single glance.
“We will eat now.”
Jac and Bra’tac made their way over to the table, but Dani seemed unsure as to what was expected of him. Cam waved at him irritatedly, gesturing that he should follow him, but they were stopped by a sharp word from the cushioned area behind them.
“No!” Jac held out a hand to Danihel and motioned that he should sit beside him. Cam’s mouth dropped open for a second and then he remembered himself and turned to arrange for the meal to be brought in.
Dani moved over to where the other men were lounging and then dropped gracefully to his knees close to Jac, who was leaning up on one elbow, watching him intently
“You will eat with me whenever I am in residence, unless the company I have precludes it. I will make sure you have appropriate clothing and jewellery.” Jac reached out and dragged a gentle finger down the taut muscle of Dani’s thigh. He was gratified by the visible shiver, and the darkening of the slave’s eyes.
“You will sleep in my quarters, in my bed, unless one of us is ill or injured. You will run my household and train your body; in fact, we will train together. The Legion will no doubt be deployed after this period of hiatus, and you will be coming with me.”
Jac took a breath, aware that his gaze was intent on the other man. He was feeling overwhelmed, dragged down by the depth of his want; not just for Danihel’s body, but for his mind and his spirit. The slaves face seemed to reflect everything he was thinking, and feeling and Jac wanted to know it all.
“Tell us of your life before you came to be in my clutches.”
Jac only just stifled a jump as Master Bra’tac spoke. He had completely forgotten the old man was there. The Primus made himself back away from the intensity of his feelings. He couldn’t afford to be so distracted by this man, especially when they were at war.
Danihel looked towards his new master, asking for permission to speak. Jac was impressed by his poise and knowledge of etiquette. He nodded his agreement.
“My family was originally from Burgund. My father was a scholar, who dabbled in all kinds of learning but was particularly interested in the building techniques of the early Egyptian Pharaohs. He became very knowledgeable and his expertise became known to Ptolemy XII. He packed up my mother and I, and we travelled to Egypt. I remember only a little of the journey as I was only two years old.”
The man moistened his lips and it was all Jac could do not to reach out and follow the pink tongue with the tips of his fingers. He splashed a little of the rich red wine into a glass, watered it down and handed it to Dani, who smiled shyly as he accepted. He drank deeply and then continued.
“We stayed in rooms in the palace and I played with the children of the royal household. It was a magical few years. I had lessons with the scholars who taught the other children and I learned several languages. That is where I was given my present name.” Dani’s expression became clouded and sad. “My mother often worked alongside my father, keeping records and organising the workers. She was a force to be reckoned with.” He took another deep drink.
“One afternoon, I was with them as they began to oversee the moving of a cover stone from one of the ancient tombs. The tunnel they were in collapsed and they were crushed beneath the weight of sand and rock.”
Jac winced at the shocking story. “How old were you Dani?”
The younger man smiled sadly. “I was 8 years old, alone in a country that was not mine, with no family to call on. All the largesse I’d been offered was taken away, I was taken to the kitchens and put to work. I’ve been a slave in one form or another since then…for the last 10 years.”
“So how did you come to be so well versed in weapons, while still being a scholar?” Master Bra’tac was as enthralled by the young man’s story as Jac was.
Danihel grinned, “I was lucky. Berenice, one of the royal children, was a difficult child to say the least. She was always slipping away from her nanny and minders. More often than not she would find her way to the kitchens and she took a shine to me. By that time, I was nearly 14 and it was not appropriate for her to spend time with a near adult slave as a friend, so the head of the household decided to make me a member of her entourage. I was schooled in weapons and defence, and tasked with keeping her out of mischief, which also included accompanying her to her lessons – some of which were taught by the very scholars I had learned with years before.”
“But you are obviously not there anymore…so…” Jac wanted the end to the story. If he was honest he wanted Bra’tac gone so he could start teaching his own lessons to his new slave…lessons which should not be undertaken in the company of others.
“Berenice was betrothed and married to a Macedonian prince and he simply disbanded her entourage. I was sold to a dealer who specialised in slaves for Gladiatorial training and from there into the hands of Master Bra’tac.”
The younger man sipped on his watered wine and waited, his story told.
“That is a fine tale,” Bra’tac offered. “I know you know many languages, and that you learn new ones with great ease. You speak to me easily in the Jaffa dialect of Goa’uld. That will be a useful skill, will it not Primus, when you are travelling with the Legion.”
Jac ripped off a piece of flatbread and dipped it in a bowl of flavoured olive oil. He rolled it and then offered it to Dani, pressing it against his lips until the slave opened his mouth and took a bite. “I’m sure there will be many uses for Dani’s clever mouth,” Jac agreed.
Bra’tac gave a wry chuckle and then rose with a graceful movement. “And that I think is my cue to leave, old friend. I hope you will join me for a feast before you go back to war.
Jac stood also, wincing at the pain in his knees, and wishing he was half as supple as the old Warrior, who was at least twice his age. “Bra’tac, you are always welcome in my house. Send a messenger with details of the feast and I will gladly attend. We will be here for four months at least.”
Moments later the Jaffa had left the room and for the first time Jac and Dani were alone. Jac’s eyes feasted on the sight the other man made, kneeling on the floor in front of him. He was young and hard bodied, yet had a softness around his mouth and eyes that made him look a little vulnerable. Jac wanted him with a passion he hadn’t felt for years. Jac held out a hand and grasped Dani’s wrist, hauling him to stand and pulling the slave against his body.
Jac could feel the slave trembling a little, although his expression was heavy lidded, his pupils blown with arousal.
“Take off your clothes,” Jac demanded, his voice rough with need, as he let go of Dani’s wrist.
Dani did not demur. With slightly shaking fingers, he pulled out the pin holding his cloak closed and let the heavy material pool behind him. He undid the heavy leather belt holding his tunic and let it drop to the side, too. With a single lithe movement the cotton garment was over his head and he stood in just a simple linen loincloth and his leather sandals. His skin was smooth and golden, only fine blonde hairs marring its surface. His nipples were small and copper-coloured, dark spots amongst the deeply cut muscles. On the swell of his upper bicep, he wore a large tattoo of an eagle in full flight, its talons outstretched, and its beak opened as if screeching its triumph at a kill. It was exquisite and Jac ran his finger along the finely etched lines.
Dani shivered at his touch, his nipples tightened and evidence of his arousal stained the front of his bulging linen undercloth.
“Take it all off,” Jac whispered, feeling as if the whole world would shatter under the tension of his excitement. “I want to see my slave.”
Danihel reached down and untied the lacings of his sandals, toeing each of them off as they came loose on his foot. Finally, he released the ties at the side of his loincloth and he was naked.
Jac let his eyes roam at will. The wide shoulders and strong, muscled chest narrowed to a trim waist, furred with an arrow of darkening hair directing his gaze to a mass of golden curls. Dani’s cock was thick and long, hard and straining, its colour only slightly darker than the surrounding skin. Pre-come was welling from the slit and Jac watched as it throbbed and twitched in time with Dani’s pulse.
“Turn,” Jac demanded, not knowing where his patience was coming from, but he needed to see, to map out the contours of this new land he was about to conquer.
He took in a gasp of breath as the most magnificent ass came into view. The cheeks were rounded, with a deep dimple where the large muscle was honed to perfection. Jac’s cock lurched at the cleft between, and his hunger to be buried there rose higher. Dani’s thighs were thick and strong, his legs then narrowing to smooth calves and long feet. If ever the gods had made a perfect man, he was here standing in front of Jac, and the man was his. This was his gift from the Universe for all the privation of his life.
With a great effort of will he stepped back and cleared his throat. “Come with me.” He didn’t look back, sure that the slave would be following as ordered. He led the way through his private office into the outer room of his bedchamber and then turned. The view was just as gorgeous the second time around and Jac had to breathe deeply to prevent embarrassment for his lack of stamina. Dani smiled shyly and waited, his body tense and his hands curled at his sides.
Jac stepped forward and slid his hand around Dani’s waist, pulling him in. Their lips met in a kiss that was devastating to Jac’s patience. His tongue delved hungrily into the other man’s mouth, demanding entrance and ownership. Dani moaned low and long, his chest heaving. Jac dragged his mouth from those sweet, drugging lips and kissed words onto his jaw and throat.
“Touch me, learn me. Find out how to please me, and I will make you fly my pullum, my fledgling.”
Then Dani’s hands were everywhere, touching and smoothing, igniting sparks of electricity wherever they touched. He peeled away the layers of Jac’s clothing, working slowly and methodically to expose his Master’s body for the first time.
Jac was ten years older than Dani, and those years, and more, had been served in war. His body was marred with the scars of many battles, some more severe than others. He was muscular without being bulky. His arms were corded and strong; those of a man who wielded a long sword and hefted a heavy shield, often for days at a time without rest. The hair all over his body was silver, with a dense covering over his chest and down around his groin. His penis was thick and powerful, standing out proudly above heavy balls.
Jac watched as Danihel took in his form. The slave drew his fingers lightly down Jac’s chest, circled around his pale nipples, and made their way relentlessly towards his hard cock. Jac stopped him before he reached his intended destination, knowing if he didn’t he would come before the man had more than a couple of fingers on him. Jac was at the limit of his ability to wait, and he was not one for standing still when action was called for.
With his hand wrapped tightly around Dani’s wrist he took the two long strides into his bedchamber and pushed the younger man down onto the sleeping pallet draped in rich dark material. The slave looked breathtaking lying on his back against the sumptuous blue and gold bedding and Jac could wait no longer. He knew the other man had little sexual experience and none at all with another man, so he’d already decided to go with simplicity for their first encounter.
Running his hands from Dani’s feet, up over his long legs and thighs, he laid himself over the other man, pressing their naked bodies together. The sound that came from Dani’s lips was wanton and raw; it was sex encapsulated in sound and Jac wanted to hear more of it. He pressed down hard, aligning them from chest to knees, their aching cocks trapped between them.
“Oh Gods…please, please…” Dani pleaded as Jac captured a nipple between his lips and bit down gently. The slave pushed up perfectly against Jac as they began to move and slide together, but the friction was too dry, too hot and Jac needed more.
Reaching beneath the bed he located a small pot of the oil he favoured for lubrication. Dipping his fingers, he smoothed it, dripping and fragrant, over their heaving bellies and then rested back down. Now the movement was easy and suddenly their cocks were in perfect alignment.
“Now I will show you what you have missed all these years, my little fledgling,” he promised and Dani moaned his agreement.
Jac took both of their erections into his big, calloused hand and began to stroke as they both began to heave and slide against one another. Dani’s eyes were pools of black, his breath coming in stuttering gasps and his pleading had degenerated into strings of unintelligible sounds as he learned what it was to be pleasured at the hands of a master.
Jac was rapidly following him, his need long overpowering his will to hold back. With a thrilling show of strength, he twisted them so Danihel lay on top. The young man’s eyes grew wide as Jac released their cocks and placed both his oily hands on Dani’s ass. He used this position to urge the slave into an undulating rhythm. The other man was quick to learn what he wanted and Jac could soon feel the deep ache of his orgasm forming in the pit of his stomach.
He couldn’t resist any longer and traced his slick finger along the crease between Dani’s ass cheeks. The slave moaned loudly and Jac was encouraged that the younger man was not afraid of his touch. He dared to go lower and was soon tracing around the tight pucker, smoothing oil as he went. He knew he had only seconds before his own release and he wanted this first time for Dani to be memorable, so he drew all the strength of will he had and waited until Dani’s body told him the other man was about to come. Then he pressed his finger inside his slave for the first time.
It was tight and so very hot and Jac felt the pressure as Dani came with a loud cry. The feel and scent of his come as if spread over their bellies was the last straw for Jac’s willpower. He held Dani tightly to him, and lurched up once, twice and a third time before the power of his orgasm made the world grey out for a second.
Jac opened his eyes to find his new lover trembling above him, desperately trying to hold his weight off his master, while riding out the aftershocks of his orgasm. Jac claimed his mouth in a passionate kiss and rolled them to the side. Dani gave a sigh, of both happiness and relief.
“You’re mine now, Dani, amica mea. I have waited my whole life for you and I am never letting go.”
Dani’s eyes grew wide with first shock and then acceptance. “Ita, tua semper.” Always yours.
Jac nodded and then pulled the younger man to lie with his head on his shoulder. Burying his hand into Dani’s thick hair, he closed his eyes contentedly and fell asleep.
Four months later.
Time had passed quickly for Danihel, slave of the mighty Primus Pilus. There had been much to learn, both in his new role as major-domo to the household and as Jac’s lover in his bed.
Jac was a fair but firm Master to the slaves. He expected them to work hard and fulfil the tasks set for them with the minimum of fuss. Dani had made some changes to the way the house was run, and Jac had complimented him on the way the household ran more smoothly. Danihel had streamlined the financial accounting also, and uncovered some anomalies in the income from the vineyard and other businesses that Jac owned.
He had been rewarded with new clothes and shoes of a quality he had never had before, even when he was in the royal household in Egypt. There were some limitations to what he could wear, after all he was still a slave, but everything Jac purchased for him was exquisite
Then there was the jewellery and weapons. A thick gold chain hung around Dani’s neck, from which dangled amulets depicting the house gods protecting the House Aquila and Jac’s own seal. His wrists were encased in two wide slave bracelets made of beaten silver and engraved with eagles, similar to the one etched in his own skin. Many slaves wore these signs of their captivity, but few were so lavish.
The sword and daggers Jac had gifted him with were of the finest quality and spoke to Jac’s trust in him. Dani trained everyday, both with his Master and with Bra’tac, as Jac insisted he should be able to defend himself when the Legion returned to Britannia.
And that time was nearly on them. Orders had come through three weeks before and the city port had been bustling with activity as supplies, food and men poured into the garrison.
Dani had been busy also, gathering the personal supplies and effects his Master would need and preparing the slaves and entourage that would serve the Primus over the next few months. The Argentum Aquila was going to be in full command of the First Legion during the campaign to put down a Brigante rebellion just outside Corinium Dobunnorum. To this end they were going to be sailing further than usual around the coast, to land at Petuaria and then a two-day march to the Legionary Fort at Eboracum
But despite the hard work and long days, Dani had never felt so happy or so cherished. Jac treated him with respect in the day and with tender love at night. He had inducted Dani into the many different ways they could pleasure one another and Danihel had risen to every challenge…literally. He didn’t think he had come so much since he had been a boy. Jac seemed insatiable and had a will of iron. He was a Spartan in bed, pulling the maximum amount of ecstasy from Dani’s body, making it sing with pleasure.
But there was one thing they had not yet done, and Dani was beginning to despair of it ever happening. More than anything he wanted to feel his Masters cock inside him, hard and hot and vital. Jac had used fingers, slicked and smooth, and once a dilitare…a hard phallus made of lapis that stretched him, while Jac pressed it into him with unyielding pressure.
But it wasn’t his Master’s long, thick cock. So Dani had made a plan; one he hoped would not get him whipped or worse. Their encounters were always led by Jac of course, and Dani was not so experienced that he felt confident of his ability to be the seducer, but finally his patience was at its end. They would be leaving for Britannia in two days and he was sure they would have no time for the kind of recreation Dani was planning.
He had carefully prepared the bedchamber he shared with his Master, placing the most sumptuous bedding on the pallet with as many pillows as he could gather from around the Villa. He had made sure the water jugs were full for washing and there were clean cloths for drying. He had even double-checked the pot of lubricating oil his master kept under the bed.
Jac had left early that morning for a briefing at the Garrison with Tribune Georgius and Princeps Teal’c. Dani had called the household slaves and servants in and given them their daily duties. Then he had bustled out into the city, to the baths where he was well known.
He had spent three hours being washed, steamed and shaved. When he returned to the Villa he was clean inside and out, his skin oiled, and his body completely hairless. The attendant in the baths had winked at him knowingly, and Dani had blushed to the roots of his hair.
Once he got back to the Villa he had very little time before his Master returned for the midday meal. In the sleeping room he’d been designated but had never used, Dani stripped out of his clothes, and washed the street dust from his feet and lower legs. Dipping his hands in the fragrant oil he had purchased at the baths, he re-coated his skin from his toes upwards. His cock was already hard and leaking in anticipation and he had to take several deep breaths before he could continue with his preparations. Finally he lay on his side, on his unused pallet, and reached behind him. He had never done this for himself before. Jac was always greedy for the feel of him clenching down on his long, strong fingers. His Master had fingered him often enough that Dani’s first finger went in easily, but the strange position and the illicitness made it feel exotic and daring.
Two fingers became three and then Dani was breathing heavily, his cock tight against his belly. He knew if he carried on he would come and that simply would not do. So he withdrew and cleaned his hand carefully.
Rising, he slipped on the sapphire blue tunic Jac seemed to find particularly exciting and dabbed a little Egyptian kohl under his lower lashes. He’d done this once before and Jac had been on him like a mad man. They had not slept the whole night and both were beautifully exhausted by the time they finally surfaced. He looked at his reflection in the polished silver mirror on his wall and had to admit that he looked good; better than the high class whores who plied their wares in the Via Libidinis, and Danihel could admit to having looked with interest at a few of the men there more than once.
He made his way quickly through the house, only meeting one serving slave, who blushed and giggled as he passed. It wasn’t like everyone in the household didn’t know what he and the Master did; in fact it had been a cause for contention in the early days when several of the indentured servants accused him of using his place in their Masters bed to get his position in the Masters house. He had put down that petty rebellion with his unusual mixture of charm and a will of steel, which few could find any defence against.
Finally, all was as prepared as it could be and Danihel attempted to calm his pounding heart by arranging himself on his knees next to the bed in the Masters bedroom, and clearing his mind of doubts.
It could have been minutes or hours, he was not sure, but finally he heard the voice of the Primus as he strode through the house, the metal on his armour clanking as he walked.
“Dani…Dani…Gods, where are you. I should thrash you for not being at the front door waiting…Oh, Jove…”
Dani looked up from under his lashes in way he knew drove his Master wild.
“Forgive me, sir. I am here to do my duty…I am prepared for any duty you should wish of me.”
It took a moment, but Danihel saw the exact second when his insinuation hit home. Jac swallowed deeply and a pale blush coloured the skin under his jaw. He growled…growled…deep and low, and Dani felt his skin tighten with anticipation and a little relief. He would not be whipped, but he would be filled, long, and hard, and deep, and he couldn’t help the long moan that crept out on his fast exhale.
“Stand up, and help me out of this…quickly!”
Jac’s demand was sharp and urgent, shot through with tension that was completely sexual…primal and demanding. Danihel got to his feet in one graceful move, and made his steps towards his Master deliberately provocative, swinging his hips slightly and extending and flexing his muscles in a wanton show of sensuality.
Jac’s move was lightening fast, and Dani let out a small cry of surprise as he found himself pressed tightly between the wall and the heavily armoured form of his panting, very turned on, Master. The smell of the leather and bronze mixed with the scent of Jac was like the best aphrodisiac and Dani was glad he had left off his subligaculum. His cock thickened and rose, tenting his tunic and pressing against the matching hardness behind his master’s leather kilt.
“Master…please…” Danihel breathed. “Let me undress you.”
The slave watched as Jac gathered the last threads of his will and took a step back from him. The older man was trembling with effort and for a moment Danihel wondered if he would just throw him to the bed and fuck him, not caring that weapons and armour would do the slave great damage. But the Primus was stronger than that and he stood tall, only the periodic tense and flex of his muscles under Dani’s fingers indicating just how difficult a task it was.
The slave’s fingers shook slightly as he pulled at buckles and ties, following the well-practised routine that removed the many layers of metal, leather and cloth from the honed body of his Master. Every time he did it, whether in haste or leisure, Dani always marvelled at the skin and muscle he uncovered; carved from years of hard, dangerous work with sword and shield. He traced the calluses on Jac’s hands, feeling the hard ridge that almost completely mimicked the leather bound pommel of his sword. So many nights he had felt that same callus wrapped around his hard cock. He bit down hard on his cheek to prevent himself from coming, feeling a rush of pre-come trickle down his length, which made him shiver with need.
Finally his goal was completed. Jac was totally naked, acres of golden skin, marred with a myriad of scars. His cock engorged and flushed deep red, and much bigger than the stone phallus his master had used on him. Dani swallowed hard, suddenly very nervous.
“I will not hurt you, pullum,” Jac promised, his voice husky.
Danihel nodded, trusting the man completely. In a quick, graceful move, he pulled his tunic over his head and stood, gloriously naked before his lover.
“On your hands and knees,” Jac whispered. “I want to watch every inch of my cock as it enters you. Want to watch you stretch wide around me, taking me in, yielding to me.
Dani moaned and did as he was bid. He quickly piled the large soft pillows onto the centre of the bed and draped himself over them, turning his head to the side so he could watch his Primus. He reached behind him with both hands, resting his weight on his shoulders and pulled apart his ass cheeks, revealing the glistening, oiled and loosened hole.
“Oh, Oh, Gods, Dani.” Jac was beside himself as he knelt behind his slave and plunged two fingers into Dani’s slick centre.
The penetration was rough but not painful and simply added to Dani’s arousal. He began to whimper as the fine fabric of the pillow covers rubbed against his sensitive glans, in time with the press of Jac’s fingers inside him.
“Going to be inside you, fill you, mark your virgin hole with my come.” Jac inserted one more finger and the stretch was as much as Dani had taken before. But he knew his Master was bigger still.
“Now, my Dani…now…now…” Jac chanted, panting with need.
Then finally he was there, the blunt head of his thick cock snubbed up against Dani’s opening. The slave cried out, a little in fear, but mostly in a bone deep want to have Jac buried in him, part of him. “Yes…please…in me, Jac…in me.”
The press of the hot flesh was inexorable, stretching Dani wider and further than he thought possible. There was pain, and heat…a tense, burning sensation that radiated up through the base of his spine and mixed with the incipient orgasm that was gathering in the pit of his stomach.
Jac pushed in, in one long smooth stroke, and then was still for a seeming age, kissing Dani’s shoulder blades, and murmuring little endearments and filthy promises in between. The burning eased and Jac must have felt Dani relax slightly, as he chose that exact moment to begin to move, his cock plunging into Dani’s hole over and over again
Dani didn’t have words, his mind was all slick heat and the sound of Jac’s description of their coupling. He was reduced to simply moaning, as bright sparks of sensation danced along his nerve endings.
“Oh, my fledgling, my beautiful slave. You should see us. You take me so well.” Jack drew back slightly and traced a finger around the place where they were joined. Dani hadn’t expected it to be so sensitive, every tiny part joined by invisible lines of fire to his cock.
“Please…Please, Jac…I need…I need…”
“I know what you need, Dani, and I’m going to give it to you.”
Jac grasped Dani by the hips and began to fuck into him hard, pulling Dani’s body onto his straining cock, time and time again.
“Are you going to spill for me, donum dei…spill without being touched while I’m fucking you, filling you?”
And as if the words had been an order, Dani complied, coming hard into the silk covered pillows under him, while Jac fucked him through it, every jerk of his cock adding more sensation, until he almost screamed at the intensity.
Then with a cry of triumph Jac was filling him, a flash of heat deep inside that seemed to meld him to Dani, branding him as surely as molten metal. Dani knew, as if it were a vision from the gods that he would forever be Jac’s and that he would die rather than be parted from him.
“I’ll never leave you…” he whispered his pledge.
“And I’ll never let you go.” Jac replied.
Just outside Eboracum, two weeks later.
Fucking Dani for the first time was a distant, if very pleasant memory, as was the beautiful cloudless day that had dawned as they left Rubrifontes and led the First Legion through the Porta Stellarum.
Now, however, the Primus stood in the lee of his tent, watching the rain plummet out of a dull grey sky, wishing to be anywhere but Brittania. This storm was one of several that had raged for a week now, turning the ground to thick churned mud and their tents and belongings damp, limp and smelly. The bakers were finding it hard to find dry kindling for the ovens and several loads of grain had been spoiled by mould in the damp, cold conditions. When it wasn’t raining there were deep, penetrating mists that covered everything with a layer of moisture, soaking into the leather of the soldiers uniforms and making everyone feel weighed down and miserable. Muck squelched into the gaps in sandals and shoes and weapons grew easily tarnished and dulled.
The Brigantes had proven canny adversaries, although severely outnumbered by the First Legion. They were guerilla fighters, using their knowledge of the terrain and, at the moment, the weather conditions, to undertake stealth raids, cutting loose horses, spoiling supplies and sometimes managing to kill men as they slept or stood guard.
Jac was mightily fed up of Brittania already and he had an inkling that this campaign was going to go on for a good while yet.
Somehow, Dani managed to keep the inside of the tent relatively dry and mud free, while supporting Jac as he made his way around the Legionary camp, meeting with his centurions and showing his face, cementing the love of his men into a solid mass of loyalty and admiration. Everywhere they went he made sure that Dani’s place was emphasised. As a slave he was under his Master’s aegis but with such a huge force of men it was sensible to reinforce Jac’s claim on him. So far Dani had been welcomed both as their Primus’ slave and as an able fighter.
Right now Jac was not happy with his slave, however.
A few days before, a small band of thirty rebels had been captured and brought into the camp. They were dressed in strange leather armour, thickly coated in some kind of lacquer that turned it a mottled dull grey. Jac had to admire the design of overlapping squares, which gave the overall effect of the carapace of a beetle. The rebels themselves were bearded and wild looking, with one exception; a young woman who travelled with them. She wore a rough spun tunic and long leather boots and had a child-like demeanour. She told them her name was Rees.
Dani had taken to her immediately and had recounted her story to Jac at the fireside the same night. She’d told him of being stolen away from her father and left alone and unwanted in a cave with only a water supply and no exit. She thought she would die there and couldn’t tell Dani how long she had been alone until the men of Ripley Tor had found her. She had travelled with them ever since.
Jac was wary of her story. There was something about her; something he could not quite put his finger on, that made him want to watch her closely. His slave had been quietly angry with him, pleading her case as a poor child who had been abandoned. Jac was no fool. The Primus realised Dani saw himself in this ‘lost child’ and wanted to be the saviour for her that no one had been for him. Jac had agreed that she be allowed to stay in the camp while the other rebels had been marched away to the Legionary Fort for questioning. But he had entrusted several of his men with the job of watching her and had made no apologies to Dani for doing so. Sometimes his slave was worse than a wife when it came to nagging, but Danihel seemed to know when to back off and leave an argument be before Jac was forced to take action they would both regret.
Jac was more than angry, therefore, to find her with Dani in his tent, the command tent. It wasn’t just a breach of orders, it was plain stupid, and Jac knew the last word that could be used for Dani was stupid.
The girl cowered in the corner as Jac rounded on Danihel, his face red with temper.
“What do you think you’re doing. We don’t invite the enemy into our command tent and you know that.”
Dani gave a derogatory snort of laughter. “An enemy…She is nothing more than a girl, sir. A child who has been used and abused by the rebels. What could she possibly do to the great Primus Pilus and the mighty First Legion?”
Jac’s expression became cold and hard and he saw Dani draw back in shock. ‘Yes’, thought Jac, ‘You may be favoured, but you are still a slave…even though I love…’ His thoughts took him aback. Love…was that true. Did he love Dani. He knew he wanted to possess him forever, that he would never sell him. But did one own another in that way when they were the love of your life? Jac blew out a breath. This was not the time or place for such revelations.
Two soldiers appeared at the mouth of the tent and took in the scene with rapidly paling faces. ‘As well they should’, Jack thought. They had failed in their task of guarding the girl and he would deal with them later.
“Take her away and bind her until I can find competent men to take her to the Fort.”
Both men pressed their fists to their breast and made to grab hold of the girl. She twisted out of their grasp and made a run out of the doorway and into the camp. Dani turned and made to follow.
“No!” Jac ordered. “You stay here!”
Danihel gave him a look of disdain and in a single stride he was out of the tent and running after the girl. Jac was incensed at his show of disobedience. Taking only a moment to tuck an eating knife from the table into his belt, he followed after Dani and the legionaries, who were all in hot pursuit of the fleeing girl.
For a few moments Jac lost sight of the group, but then the flash of a weapon just outside the boundaries of the camp caught his attention.
Dani had his back to a tree and was surrounded by a group of rebels, dressed just as the others had been. He was holding on to Rees who was acting cowed. But it was obvious to Jac that it was just that, an act. Marcus and Gaius were on the ground, bleeding, disarmed, but not fatally injured. Each had a steel tipped spear pressed to their throat.
Jac heard the clatter of armour as men poured into formation behind him. He had no doubt the legionaries could easily overpower the rebels, but Dani would be lost and no matter his anger, he could not countenance such an outcome. He held up his fist, and the group came to a sudden and complete halt.
“I won’t let you take her,” Dani was saying to the Brigantes, as he turned slowly, trying not to keep his back to any rebel for more than a moment. “Leave now, while the Primus stays his hand, otherwise you will all die here, and what for…just a simple minded child.”
The rebels laughed at him, showing their black broken teeth and jabbing at him with their spears.
Dani looked over at Jac and the Primus could see his slave was willing to die for this girl. The sadness on his face as he gazed at his Master was almost enough to fell Jac.
“Don’t do this Danihel. She is more than she seems.” Jac put steel in his voice, trying to get Dani to see what the girl was hiding.
“She really is just a scared child who was unwittingly taught how to become a weapon.” Dani pleaded as Jac shook his head, vacillating between anger and fear at the actions of his slave…his love.
The girl moved her hand, seemingly randomly. But Jac had spent many years at war and he recognised the signals and the change in body language of the warriors nearest his position. They were about to attack. In turn, he moved his hand behind his back and gave his own men a silent order to be prepared.
Rees moved as if to hold up her hand to the men around them, but as she turned her head Jac caught the flash of metal at her temple. With lightning reflexes and devastating aim, he slid the small eating knife from his belt and threw it. It landed, embedded deeply in her chest, piercing her heart and killing her outright. The sudden weight of her body dragged Dani, with the young girl’s body still in his arms, down onto the muddy ground.
The rebels were so shocked by the loss of Rees that they stood stock still, until the soldiers were upon them. It took only a few minutes for all but one man to be lying dead, around the huddled form of Jac’s slave.
Jac left the injured rebel to his men and moved swiftly to Dani’s side. He made to pull the girl’s body from the slave’s arms, needing to make sure his love was not badly hurt, as he seemed to be favouring his wrist
“You stupid son of a bitch.” Tears were pouring down Dani’s cheeks and he shook with a mixture of shock, grief and anger.
“Hey. You’re welcome.” Jac wasn’t sure whether he wanted to kiss or kill the younger man, he just knew he wanted to get him off the ground, out of the rain and somewhere they could be alone.
“You didn’t have to kill her.”
“Yes. I did.”
“She was calming them down.” Dani sobbed.
“No, she wasn’t. You had no way of knowing that but I did.” Jac reached over and slid a long, thin blade from the girl’s hair then took a step back to show it to Danihel. It was wickedly sharp and had no handle. Stabbed into the neck or groin it would mean instant death.
Teal’c loomed next to Jac and gazed down at Dani with a mix of disappointment and concern. “The rebel says she was their leader. She was going to kill you hoping to send the Legion into disarray. It seems news of the love your men have for you has crossed to this island and into the ears of these savages. I imagine she thought killing Danihel would be a good secondary goal if she could not complete her first.”
Dani paled to an almost parchment white and pushed the body of the rebel leader over to the side. Slipping and sliding on the muck under his feet, he rose and pressed his back against the tree behind him. He made a couple of aborted attempts to speak and then stopped, pressing a shaking hand to his lips.
Jac was about to move to gather him up, when Dani took the two steps necessary to bring him into Jac’s personal space. With his head bowed, he fell to his knees in the thick mud and placed his tightly fisted hands on his thighs. His whole body was trembling, although Jac could not tell if it was from cold, pain or delayed shock.
“My Master; Primus Pilus. I have disobeyed you. I brought an enemy into our tent who threatened you, and the mission of the First Legion. I am a slave and have no rights and no excuses to bring as to why you should spare my miserable life.” Dani bowed his head, offering his neck to his Master. “My life is yours to take…and you should take it, as I would have allowed another to take yours. There is no honour in my actions and no other recourse. Shed my blood that all will know who owns me.”
A murmur of shock went through the men standing around them. Jac felt sick. His heart was beating double time in his chest and he felt light headed. The revelation he’d had only a short time before came flooding back to him. He loved this man…He loved him. With everything he was or ever could be. As a slave he had transgressed, yes. But as a free man, with free will…
Jac gently grasped Dani’s elbows and raised him to stand. He stood in front of the shaking man and hooked a finger beneath Dani’s chin, lifting tear-filled eyes to meet his own.
“I could no more kill you than I could kill myself. In my heart, my Dani, you were never a slave. You are my gift from the gods, my love, my life and from this moment you are free.” Jac pulled his Danihel towards him, enveloped him in his arms and their lips met in a kiss that spoke of love and promised passion till the end of their lives…
…And in the days to come the story would circle the Empire; of the Argentum Aquila and his love Danihel; how they stepped through the Porta Stellarum on a blue, cloudless day and on the other side found wonders and riches beyond price which changed their lives forever.