Series: TOS, Roman Setting
Pairing: S/Mc, K, U, C, Ch, M’Benga
owns everything. I’m just borrowing
Leonardo hated the Coliseum. He hated the smell of blood and sand. The animal stink nauseated
him, but not as much as the animal sounds of the crowd above. Rome’s
taste for blood-sport sickened the healer, leaving him feeling soiled each time he aided one of the lauded murderers.
This time, Maximus had taken a wicked-looking
gash and his trainer wanted him stitched and able to fight the next day. Leonardo
did his work, smeared tincture of poppies over the wound and prepared to leave. He’d
seen eight different Maximii in the catacombs under the arena. The only difference
was the method of their deaths.
“Got something to show you,”
grunted the beastiarius. “Ever seen a satyr?” He led Leonardo to
a nearby cell. “The legions caught him up in Brittania.”
The man inside was very naked and Leonardo
examined him curiously. Thick black hair pelted his chest, arms and legs. His face was sharp-featured, with an odd cant to the eyebrows. The ears that showed under the tangled mass of hair were pointed.
A glance at his sex showed Leonardo exactly why the designation satyr had been hung on him.
“He’s scheduled for next week. He already fought Sileneus to a draw. The
crowd was furious. Until we ripped off his braes and showed them that prize. He’s going into an endurance contest.
The crowd wants to see if he really can rape ten virgins in less than an hour.
If he can’t, well, the tiger won’t care if he’s a satyr or not.”
The satyr stared at Leonardo with dark
eyes that cut to the healer’s soul.
“Is he for sale?” The words were out before Leonardo knew they were coming. Something
in the look told him that the creature before him knew what was in store for him, and he would refuse, with the same calm
he was showing now, knowing it would be his death.
“Sure. All of them are, except criminals.” The Beastiarius
named an exorbitant amount.
Leonardo said, “Done. Bring him to my house, and I will pay upon delivery.”
“I’ll have him there tomorrow.”
Leonardo hurried home. Julia would be very unhappy with him for buying something so expensive without consulting her. But he had enough gold to make most of the payment, and knew how to raise the rest. Inside the solarium was a sculpture. An old friend had carved
it for him when they were quite young. His friend had become one of the better-known
sculptors in Rome, and many collectors had offered fantastic
sums for the sculpture. He had refused them all.
Now, he stood in the afternoon warmth of
the room, and cradled the marble in his hands. But only for a moment, before
marching out the door. Before sunset, he was sitting in the empty solarium counting
his money. He had more than enough for the satyr.
Leonardo slept well that night.
The next morning, a loud knock at the door
interrupted his solitary breakfast in the solarium. Julia had been eating in
the kitchen and he didn’t want to be around her. She’d been fretful
and shrewish since their last son had left home the year before. It was the change
from fruitful Juno to barren Selene that was bothering her, but Leonardo found himself unwilling to bear the sharp edge of
her temper. He kept to his bedroom and solarium, she had her rooms and the garden,
and they went for days without seeing each other.
Leonardo opened the door and saw a bestiarius
and the satyr standing there. “I have the money,” he said, beckoning
them in. The bestiarius sat, and the satyr stood stock still, taking in all of
Leonardo returned, and dropped a pouch
of denarii on the bestiarius. “Out of my house. And don’t summon me back to that charnel house again. I’m
sick of patching up your butchers.”
The Bestarius left, bouncing the pouch
in his hand. The satyr stood warily, looking at Leonardo. He was manacled, but
Leonardo saw him gathering the chain into an unpleasant-looking grip.
He placed his hands palm out, then laid
one on his chest. “Leonardo.”
The satyr looked at him. He offered the other to his new acquisition. “Are
you hungry?” He rubbed his stomach and pointed into his mouth.
“I speak your language, healer, there
is no need to treat me as a barbarian.” The satyr’s voice was low
and modulated. His accent was musical, but not distracting, and his grammar better
than that of most Romans.
“And very well, too,” Leonardo
gaped. “Breakfast is in the solarium.
Please join me.”
“What do you intend to do with me,
healer? Am I to be a pet or a bed-slave?
Or am I a gift for another?”
“I don’t know. All I know is that I couldn’t leave you there. First,
we’ll get the chains off, then breakfast then a bath. Then we’ll
figure out what to do with you. How does that sound?”
“Will I have a say in this fate?”
“A very large one.”
Wordlessly, the satyr held out the manacles,
and Leonardo removed them. He led the way to the solarium, and they ate. Once the bath was ready, he showed the satyr to it.
“Do you have a name among your people?”
he asked as he laid out the large towels.
“Of course. You could not pronounce it. The language of The People is
far different from yours. You may call me Spock.
It is close enough.”
“Spock.” The name sat on his tongue, harsh and spat forth, completely unlike the music of Roman names. He wondered what the real name was. “The water is warm,
the oil and strigils are here. Enjoy your bath.”
Spock, hating the way the name sounded
without the aspirations and semivowels of his own language, slid into the warm water, eager to wash the filth and stink of
the arena off his body. He didn’t know if there was enough water in all
Rome to make him feel clean.
Leonardo sat and listened to the splashing
for a moment, before he began looking for proper clothing for his new purchase. He
had an old tunic, worn but intact, that should fit. He knocked, and set the tunic
inside the bathroom without entering,
Spock dried himself and dressed, pleased
to be full, clean and covered. He was hard put to remember the last time he had
been. He joined the healer in the solarium, letting the warm sun fall on him
for the first time in days.
“You speak the language better than
most freeborn Romans. What other skills do you have? Can you read and write, Spock?”
“In which language, healer? I can read and write the Roman words, but also the language of my father’s people,
the tree-alphabet of my mother’s Celts and the scratches of the northern barbarians with hair the color of your sleep-draught
flowers there.” Spock pointed to the yellow chamomile that grew on the
“What of figures? Can you add to and take from? Or manage a large household?”
“I can do all of those, Healer. I
am the only child of my father, a great lord of the Tuatha. I was raised to manage
all affairs under the Hill.”
“Very well, then. No bed slave, no gifting of you. You are my new house-manager. You
will see to the needs of myself, my wife, the two gardeners, the cook and my wife’s four maids. You will supervise my students if I am unavailable, assist in my clinic and greet guests. Your word is to be obeyed as mine, and you only answer to me. Serve
well, and I will free you.” Leonardo stood and looked into the dark eyes.
“I’m taking a big chance on you, Spock. Don’t fail or you will wish I had left you to wrestle the tiger.”
Spock nodded solemnly. “I take this service from you of my own will, and will fill it as I can.”
Leonardo smiled. “In that case, let’s get you clothing fitting your station.”
Visitors to the house of the Healer soon
grew accustomed to the sight of the tall barbarian that greeted them and took their complaints. As the months went on, he treated the minor injuries and sent them on their way without bothering the Healer.
The maids were slightly frightened of him,
being mostly young and silly. His sharp ears and long features put them in mind
of the satyr he had been billed as. The boldest tried to seduce him and learn
if the rumors were true. The others never learned what had happened, but she
was replaced before the next market day. They became accustomed to him, but never
easy in his presence.
The gardens grew as they never had under
the care of the half-tuatha, and the cook praised him to the skies. The maids,
out of fear, brought the freshest and best food they could buy. Even Julia noticed
the house was running better, when she deigned step from the rooms and gardens she ruled in the back. She watched the new slave with hooded eyes, and noticed how her husband’s gaze followed him as he
moved smoothly through his day.
The soldier that turned up on the doorstep
on the mid-summer day was fair with light eyes, his face like those of the Gauls. A
beautiful, worried-looking Nubian girl followed him as he dragged a wild-eyed, damaged slave into the house. The youth complained in a guttural mumble.
“The legions captured him in
the Caucasus mountains. They were not gentle
with him. Fix him.” The commands
were given in disregard of the commoners who waited for the healer.
Spock laid gentle hands on the young man
and he quieted. He spoke softly, a few words in the youth’s language, and
the slave let him examine the injuries. After a few minutes, he stood.
“Prefect, your slave is injured,
but not severely. When the healer finishes with the child he now helps, he will
see to your slave.”
“No street urchin outranks the Prefect of the Praetorean Guard. We shall see the healer now!”
Spock’s sharp ears caught the sounds
of steps from the next room. “As it pleases you, Prefect.”
“The little one will be fine, Claudia. Just keep him quiet and in the dark for a couple days. And lots of water.” Leonardo showed the worried mother out, and turned to Spock.
“The noble Prefect requires your
services for his new purchase, Master.” Spock took the slave’s
hand, and led him back to the examining room. He spoke a few broken words in
the youth’s tongue, a variant on the speech of the northern raiders, and got his name. Leonardo
came in and the youth started back.
“His name is Pavel,” Spock
said. “He was with the Legion for a time.”
“Pavel,” Leonardo said, his
voice low and calm. He held up a warm damp cloth, and offered it to the slave. Pavel took it and washed his face and arms, then the worst of the cuts on his body,
watching the men as if the cloth would be snatched away. “Finished?” Leonardo knew the boy probably spoke no Latin, but hoped the tone and the beckoning
hand would convey his meaning.
While the healer examined the Prefect’s
slave, Spock began his afternoon rounds. The kitchen was in order, the garden
tended. The maids were singing as they wove in Julia’s rooms. He had, after many months, learned the different songs and could track their activities by the music. The last patient was waiting, trying to make himself invisible in the exalted presence
of a Prefect.
The Prefect’s eyes followed Spock
through his every move, and the tuatha did not like the look he saw there. This
was a man used to having his way, by order or by force.
Leonardo came out, and Pavel with him. “Noble Prefect, Pavel should heal well.
Let him alone for two weeks, then bring him back. Feed him, let him use
the salve I gave him. But no hard labor, and especially no bed labor until you
“His name is Pavel? I like it.” It did not surprise Leonardo that the prefect
had not even learned the slave’s name. “He is well?.” The glint in the green-brown eyes said the Prefect hadn’t listened to the Healer.
“Prefect Tiberius, I must insist
you let him alone for two weeks. Otherwise, he will not heal, and may likely
His attention caught by use of his name,
Tiberius turned. Of course the healer knew who he was. There was but one prefect in all of Rome. He smiled, attempting to charm the man. “Healer,
I could use a slave that spoke this one’s language. Yours is very clever,
and handsome too. A bit older than I like, but I would pay well for him. Where does he come from?”
“Brittania, and he is not for sale. I couldn’t do without him.” Leonardo
stood his ground, knowing exactly how dangerous it was to refuse the Prefect anything.
The man was the de facto ruler of Rome, and the emperor
was a puppet of the Praetorian guard.
“A wild Celt? But they have no such ears. What are you then? A beast of
some sort that looks like a man?” Tiberius circled the healer’s slave, looking him over.
“I am Spock, of the People of Danu.” The words were measured, elegant and executed in purest Ciceronian style.
“Amazing. I want him, healer. Sell him to me.”
“Not today, Prefect.” Leonardo
held his ground, refusing to be intimidated by this soldier. “Take your
own slaves home, care for them properly and see me in two weeks. I will decide
Tiberius glared. “As you say, healer.” He turned and gestured. The Nubian girl made sure the youth followed with them. She had to coax him away from the healer’s slave, and he left, looking over his shoulder. The Prefect noticed.
Leonardo tended his last patient then called
Spock to him. “I have made an enemy today, Spock, over you.”
“Yes, Master. He covets me.”
“He is powerful, and could make our
lives very difficult. That’s if he does not just take you as his own. It might be wise if you left the city. I
have a villa three days’ journey north, near the mountains.”
“I would stay, my Mater. Better to be here than alone on the roads.”
The week passed with no hint of trouble. The routine of the healer’s house continued.
The sick came, and Leonardo did his best. Spock supervised the labors
and kept the order. Julia watched, seeing she had been replaced. The barbarian filled her functions more efficiently than she ever had.
She sought solace in the arms of her own lover, a handsome youth purchased some months before.
When Tiberius returned, it was not
with his new slave, but with a cadre of armed soldiers and a magistrate with accompanying lictors. They set up an informal tribunal in the Healer’s house.
“I want that slave punished,”
Tiberius demanded. “He is insolent, uncontrolled and violent. He assaulted my girl at the dawn market yesterday.”
“Impossible,” Leonardo said. He thought fast. He knew Spock had been
in the gardens, but there were no witnesses for that. “He was in my bed.” If Tiberius could lie, he could too.
“Am I to understand you’ve
taken this,” the Prefect groped for the right word, “animal into your bed?”
“It’s where you mean to take
him, once you’ve stolen him.” Leonardo turned to the magistrate. “Your Excellency, you’ve been dragged out here on an errand of theft. Prefect Tiberius covets my slave, and would have him.
I refused to sell.” Urgently, for he could see his words were having
no effect, “Do not take him from me. He is valuable, and dear to me.”
The magistrate considered what he had heard. “When I questioned the slave, she was very clear on what had happened. She held to the story under torture. In
restitution for the damage to Prefect Tiberius’s property, your property shall be given to him. That is all.”
The magistrate stood and left. The lictors shouldered their heavy bundles of rods and an axe, and followed.
Leonardo glared at the prefect. “How much did it cost you to buy the magistrate?”
“Less than you paid for the satyr,
healer. Send him with me.”
Dawn tomorrow. I need him to finish the accounts here, so that his replacement
will be able to take over.” The resigned sound in the healer’s voice
worried Spock. He knew Leonardo was fond of him and would never willingly relinquish
him to the soldier.
“I will come for him at dawn. My men control all the routes out of the city, healer.
Just so you know.” He paused in the door, adding insult to injury. “You can have a look at Pavel while I’m here.”
“Get out.” Leonardo was no longer worried about angering the most powerful man in Rome. His Spock was about to be taken from him. Until
that moment, he hadn’t realized exactly how much he’d come to rely on the slave.
Tiberius didn’t take offense, but
merely laughed and went out the door with the air of a man well satisfied with his morning’s work.
Leonardo thought rapidly, pacing the solarium. Spock sat quietly beneath the great oak in the garden. Eventually, they came together in the kitchen at sunset.
“Spock, come to bed with me,”
Leonardo said, making sure to be overheard by the servants. Somewhere in his
household was a spy for Tiberius, and he would maintain the deception. The tuatha
merely nodded and followed him.
They lay apart, staring at the ceiling.
Slowly the rest of the house slept. Diana rose late, a mere sliver of herself
as she made her way across the sky.
“Spock, I’m sorry. I should have freed you weeks ago. This wouldn’t have happened to a freeman.”
“Leonardo, my master, you have been
only kind since I came here. You have cared for me, and saved me from the horrors
of the arena. Freedom was a goal I had not hoped for.”
Leonardo rolled over, and placed a long
finger across Spock’s lips. He whispered in the pointed ear, making sure
he could not be overheard. “We leave tonight through the aqueduct. I know you can swim. Silently, swiftly.
We will make our way to my villa. I have servants there who will fight for us
should it come to that, retired gladiators and former legionnaires. They have traded swords for plows, and none will know
where we are. Out the window.”
They climbed out, lowering themselves
silently to the ground on the street outside. Leonardo led his slave into a maze of twisting alleyways, losing themselves
in the Roman night. Legionnaires passed on the main thoroughfares, but paid no heed to the smaller streets.
They found their way to a poor bath near
the walls. Slipping in, Leonardo beckoned Spock down to the waste-water drain. “This is large enough to get us out of the city.
It will be foul, but we can endure it.”
The drainpipe was close quarters, and the
stench was appalling. The slime coating it aided their progress, leaving them
befouled and repulsed as they found the exit stream. They bathed
upstream of where the drainpipe emerged.
Feeling cleaner, Leonardo oriented them
and started for his villa, two days north of Rome.
“Ah, Master Healer! Welcome.” His cook, Christiana greeted him effusively,
her snow-white hair piled atop her head. “My Benjamin, he told me you would
be coming. Something about having to call the men to ward off some praetorians
“Welcome, Master Healer.” Benjamin emerged from the back of the house, wiping his large dark hands on his tunic. Born a Christian in Ethopia, he had been sold to Leonardo when he refused to fight
in the arena. Leonardo freed him, and freed Claudia, the cook, who had changed
her name when she took the new faith of her husband. They stayed at the villa,
out of gratitude, and because Leonardo let them have run of the place in exchange for maintaining it. “All is in order. We informed the Praetor we had not
seen you for a year, and were not expecting you any time soon. Who is your guest?”
“This is Spock, of the Tuatha. He is my student, come from far Brittania to study the Greek arts of healing and Roman
“Welcome, Spock. Will I need to make up Mistress’s room?”
“Mistress Julia will be remaining
in Rome. Spock
and I are here to study the healing herbs in a place where we can grow more of them.”
“I see.” Benjamin bowed. “I’ll make up the guest room.”
“No need,” Spock said. “The Master room will be enough.”
Benjamin nodded and Christiana hastily
disappeared to start some bread for dinner. Leonardo went to his room, and Spock
“Spock, you don’t have to sleep
with me in payment for rescuing you.”
The slanted eyebrow rose a bit. “I do nothing out of gratitude, my master.
I do this because I choose.” He kissed the healer softly.
“Your hearing is perfect, healer. You have done well by me, and I am pleased to share myself with you.” He stripped off the tunic, and stood before Leonardo as naked as he had been in the catacombs.
Spock stopped the protest with a second
kiss, tasting the healer’s arousal on his mouth, knowing that the man wanted this as much as he did.
“Yes,” was all Leonardo could
manage. He slipped his own tunic off, and pulled Spock to lie beside him. It had been many years since he had been with a man, not since his own youth. They lay together, touching each others’ body slowly, hesitantly.
Spock’s hands were large but gentle. He touched the healer softly, in places that aroused humans most. His father’s people were skilled in all the arts, and love was one of their favorites. Leonardo arched under his touch, the lovely blue eyes closing in pleasure.
He brushed kisses around his master’s
face, kissing the closed eyes. His hands moved down to stroke the erection that
brushed his thighs. A shudder went through his master and he whispered soothing
words in his own language.
He took the kisses down Leonardo’s
throat, and teased one warm nipple into hardness, knowing some human men liked it. But
when he kissed lower, Leonardo caught his face between strong hands and stopped him from his ultimate goal.
“No, no. Oh, Spock, how could you think I would want that from you?”
He pulled the tuatha back up to kiss his mouth. “I wouldn’t
ask such a thing of even a slave.”
“It is a common elaborate kiss among
my people. Yours do not do it?”
“No, it’s filthy. Only whores kiss that way, Spock, and only those that are well paid..”
“How do men love among your people
then, my master?”
“Let me show you.” Leonardo rolled onto his side, and had Spock face him. He
pressed their cocks together, wrapping his hand around both shafts.
“Ah,” Spock said, and brought
his own hand in. The feeling of the warm skin against his was pleasurable, and
he stroked in his own favorite motion, wanting to please his master.
Leonardo relaxed into the hands of his
handsome slave. Spock wanted this, and it had been a very long time since he’d been touched. After their last son, Julia had refused him, retiring to her rooms, unwilling to risk another pregnancy
at her age.
Leonardo gasped as the pleasure reached
its peak all too quickly. He looked horrified as Spock bent to lick him clean. The tuatha quirked a single eyebrow at him.
“The essence of your life. Should it be wasted?”
Limp with release, Leonardo did not struggle. Spock completed his own pleasure, and they lay together in a patch of afternoon sunlight. A faint “mrrowr” sounded and a tiny gray tabby came wandering in. It climbed onto the divan and made itself comfortable atop Leonardo’s stomach,
purring with delight.
“What is this creature, my master? It is lovely and pleasant.”
“Don’t you have cats in your
lands?” Leonardo petted it, and showed Spock how to do the same. “This isn’t one I recognize. We have quite a few
here at the villa. They keep the mice and lizard populations down.”
They lay together without speaking.
“Spock, if I freed you, would you
“No my master. The stars have moved, the signs are wrong, and the lands of
my people do not touch those of humans at this time. It will be another twenty
years before the gates open.”
“Will you live to see it?”
“I shall.” Spock’s face was grave. “You shall not.
I see some good years ahead of us, but not so many.”
“Then let us enjoy them. I cannot return to Rome to execute the
papers right now, but you are free. I am your master no more.”
“But, you will remain my lover?”
“As long as you’ll have an
old man like me.”
The days passed, and spring melted into
summer, and the gardens bloomed. Spock loved to work with the plants. Word spread of the healer, and the local folk came, with their ills and small gifts of food and cloth. Christiana and Benjamin kept the household comfortable. Julia never came.
A centurion clattered over the lawns
and dropped from his horse in the atrium. He was bleeding and pale. Leonardo tended his wounds and Benjamin poured strong wine into him until he was revived.
is no more. The barbarians have looted it.
The emperor is dead and the Praetorian guard with him. Her people weep
in the streets and desert to the countryside. I fought until there was no hope.”
Leonardo greeted the news with aplomb. There was no way to free Spock formally,. But no longer a fear his lover would be
taken from him.
A day’s journey behind the
centurion came a ragged pair. A beautiful Nubian girl, and a pale boy of the
Rus. They had asked all in their path the way to the home of Leonardo the healer. He was in his rooms, and the servants did not dare disturb him.
“Tiberius is no more,” the
girl said. “Leonardo the Healer is a kind master who cares for those under
him. We are strong and healthy and will work for his protection.” Her Latin
was sweet and musically inflected. The boy agreed, his command of the language
less sure than hers, and more strongly accented.
Christiana, always the caretaker, had them
settled and working three days before Leonardo knew they were there. After that
he could not turn them out. Nor did he care to.
The world beyond the villa grew more dangerous with each passing week.
Leonardo stayed in his villa, laying up
provision for his household for the coming winter. He took nearby farmers and
herders under his protection, in exchange for meat and wool. The wounded centurion
had stayed as a guard for the growing household.
Julia did not come to the villa as summer
faded into fall. She did not come as the snow flew. Word came from Rome, in the form of Leonardo’s
sons. Julia had died in the sack of the city.
The young men stayed and helped with the work of the house.
Life settled into a rhythm over the years,
the spring plantings, the summer days in the growing gardens, the fall harvests. Always
Spock was at his side, in his bed. Leonardo was content, even as age sunk deeper
into his bones, frosting his hair more every year.
As the villa grew into a manor, and
age took more of him, Leonardo would sit many days in the warm sun, stroking a cat and smelling the herbs. Spock would come to him, whispering love poetry in his native tongue and holding him.
The day came when Leonardo did not
rise from their couch. Spock rose, went to the gardens, and held a cat in the
early sunshine. He keened the lament of The People very softly. He heard Christiana begin wailing from inside the house. The
stars had shifted. It was time to go home to Tir na’ Og.