When in Rome


Part Four


They said they'd be in the kitchen…

Omi wandered through the hallways in the huge house, still feeling too vague to really care where he was going. Hopefully if he kept walking around, he'd eventually find the kitchen. At the moment, he hardly found it in him to care.

Ken kissed me!

He smiled to himself, feeling warm all through. Ken - kind, sexy, exciting Ken - had just kissed him. True, it was just for appearances, but he could imagine it was more, right? He was staring at me - couldn't tear his eyes away. It was because he wanted me so badly he just couldn't contain himself any more. There was an incredible sexual energy between us.

Omi's practical side was laughing at him.

Still… if he liked it as much as I did, there's a chance. Omi sighed. Was he kidding himself when he imagined that Ken had been at least as enthusiastic about the kiss as he had? Would it be naïve to think they had just… fit… together? It all seemed so right

That could be just me, he thought. I know how I feel. It would be easy to convince himself that Ken reciprocated it all - he wanted to believe that. That was one of the biggest problems Omi had with reasoning his way through things like this. He always let his emotions control him. There were a lot of times when he fervently wished he didn't feel things so strongly. Throwing himself into any positive emotion would be nice if he had a normal life, but in his present position all it seemed to earn him was more trouble, and more pain.

And he still couldn't stop himself from doing it again, every time.

So I turn it into something positive and make it work for me, Omi decided, turning another corner. I'm not going to screw this up with Ken. I'll keep trying; keep feeling. I still believe it's worth it in the end.


He stopped. There was the kitchen, just down a short flight of stairs, and both Vena and Ilene were waiting at the bottom. Omi pushed aside his thoughts and smiled at them as he made his way down.

"Well?" Vena approached him a bit warily. "You're smiling; it must've gone all right. That's really unusual, you know. Come on!" She took his arm and led him into the room. "Tell us how it went; that usually helps."

"Uh… actually… I'd rather not," Omi said, trying to avoid lying outright. "It was sort of…" He frowned, searching for words. "You know… personal."

"That's what they all say." Ilene sighed. "It's all right. At least you're not upset - we were all ready to cheer you up, but you look fine."

"The last one was crying when he came to see us," Vena added, looking serious. "He hadn't been a slave for very long, and he was a virgin, too. Lord Siloneus must not have liked that, because he let him work in the stables after that."

"Is he still there?" Omi asked curiously.

"Yes. He's much happier," Ilene told him. "But you look like you're doing all right, so he might keep you where you are for a while." She changed the subject. "Anyway, Vena and I are going to show you our hiding place."

"Hiding place?" Omi repeated.

"Only the slaves know about it," Vena told him, walking through another exit out of the kitchen. "It's a passageway out of the slave quarters onto the street. Not that it'd do you much good; anyone who looked at you would know you're a slave, and you'd end up back here plus facing a punishment, if you tried to run away."

Omi decided not to tell her how uninterested he was in running away.

"There's a room with a hidden entrance," Ilene added. "That's where we hide out sometimes - just to get away for a while. Sometimes we'll watch people on the street and try to guess what they do for a living."

"That sounds good." If he really had been a body-slave - well, a body-slave for anyone but Ken - that room would've sounded like some place close to heaven.

"It is." Ilene led him into another cramped little room. "Well, this is where everyone sleeps - when Lord Siloneus doesn't have you stay the night, that is."

Omi glanced around. The place was dimly lit, and there were a few slaves curled on the floor under thin blankets, asleep. A couple of them were sitting up and talking, but everything seemed so… depressing. There was a definite unpleasant odor to the room.

"This is Omi," Vena introduced him. "He's Lord Siloneus's new body-slave. We'll introduce everyone to him in a minute; we're going to show him the hidden room first."

Ilene walked over to a corner of the floor and brushed aside some straw piled over it. "Watch," she told him, and lifted one of the floor panels up. "The room's underneath," she said, smiling back at Omi, and dropped out of sight.

Vena made her way to the hidden tunnel's entrance just ahead of Omi. "We found it almost the first night we were here," she told him. "It gave us something to think about."

He crouched beside the up-turned floor panel. "Were you sold together?"

"No, but we came here at about the same time." She shook her head. "That was almost four years ago - we've been best friends since then. But you don't need to hear our life story." She grinned. "Let me show you our version of paradise!"

And she slid into the tunnel, out of sight in the darkness.


Youji stood with his back against the wall, nursing a half-empty mug of ale - which was what they drank back then, apparently. Strangely, it wasn't bad - but maybe that was just the response of his frayed nerves to the alcohol. Lord knows he needed something to relax him.

Under different circumstances, the Roman drinking party might've been interesting. There was a lot of what Youji interpreted to be political talk going on - which Omi would no doubt have been fascinated by, since he was probably the only one out of them who really knew anything about ancient Rome. Most of it just went right over the blond's head, but he had enough alcohol in him so that standing there and listening to people talk about things he didn't understand was actually semi-entertaining. There weren't any women, but that was all right. Considering his situation, having women around might turn into a real trial, anyway.

The room they were in would've been spacious if there weren't so many men, and it was lit with archaic lanterns which cast eerie shadows in some of the deserted spaces. The talk and laughter gave it more of a comfortable feel, and the ale that seemed to flow so freely helped to lighten things even more.

It wasn't exactly a club, but it wasn't bad, either.

"Ho, Barrus!" Peleus almost bellowed out his name, red-faced and boisterous from the alcohol. "What on earth are you doing over there? What happened to the life of every party? You're acting like somebody died!"

Let's hope not.

"Sorry, sorry." Youji held up his hands, with a lazy grin. "I'm strung a little tight right now - what with that "special day" of ours just around the corner, you know."

That was actually sort of the truth - the date when Aya had joined Weiss was just a few days away. It would be the anniversary of the first time all four of them had been together.

"Special, huh?" Another man had joined them from Youji's other side. "What makes it so special?"

"Now, that…" Youji smirked, and raised an eyebrow. "Is nothing you're going to hear about from me - I like sleeping in my own bed at night."

That got him a round of laughter. Youji gulped down about half the contents of his mug, trying to rid himself of the sudden - and very vivid - mental picture he'd just gifted himself with. Damnit! It may be sexy as hell, but Aya would never -

"Is that what's up with Abalus, too?" One of the men waved a tankard in the direction of where Aya stood, alone and looking very uninviting, in a corner. His arms were crossed and the expression on his face dared anyone foolish enough to approach him. "He's worse than usual!"

"Doesn't want people disturbing his memories," Youji answered casually, and took another drink from his own mug. "They're the kind you want all your attention on, if you know what I mean."

Another round of laughter, and a few of them pounded him on the back.

"Damn." Youji turned his tankard over. "It's gone empty on me. Time for a refill." He sauntered over to the barrel again.

Peleus decided to join him. "You're still up for that mission?" he asked, somewhat warily. "If you've got one of those 'special' things happening…"

"Oh, yeah, no problem." The blond waved a negligent hand, filling up the mug. "If it's on the same day, we can have our victory celebration and the more personal celebration together. It'll save us some time."

"Good." The Roman was abruptly all 'party' again. "Don't mind if I do," he snickered, downing his tankard in one go, and then leaning over to fill it up again.

Youji let his thoughts wander again.

What was Aya doing, anyway? After all that talk about 'blending in' and 'acting normal'… He frowned to himself. Well, no one had thought it was too unusual; maybe this was normal for 'Abalus'. It was Aya filling that position, after all. It would make sense if it involved being anti-social and generally just unfriendly. That was Aya for you.

There's a reason for it, I know. It was still disappointing. Even just while we're here, isn't there a chance? They were pretending to be lovers, after all. Maybe… just while they were there… it didn't have to be a fiction. That would make us more convincing, right?

He took in another huge swallow of the ale. Wishful thinking. That's assuming he has hormones like the rest of us normal people. Aya's drives and motivations were like those of gods - untainted by 'mortal' lusts, and beyond the comprehension level of mere human beings. Trying to turn him on would be like attempting to move a mountain.

And moving the mountain would be a hell of a lot safer.

I wonder if he'd really kill me off for coming on to him. Youji drank some more, thoughtfully. Or if he didn't, would we have to fight about who'd be on top? Another gulp. Would he get offended if I used his real name? Aya's his sister… that'd be a little strange. One of these days, he'd have to ask about that - it'd be interesting to hear the answer.

Yeah, and maybe one of these days I'll strap a couple hunks of meat to my body and hop into a cage with some hungry lions.

He took another drink.

Somebody made a crude comment about a woman he'd been seeing, and there was another roar of laughter. Goddamnit, can't they just go back to politics? Youji lifted his tankard - only to find it empty.

"Is there a hole in this thing?" he wondered out loud, and went off for another trip to the barrels. He was somehow very thirsty.


"The physicians give him one more day and night, my Lord," the messenger said respectfully. "It surely will not be much longer than that."

"Oh." Was that it? Ken was more than a little annoyed, but tried not to let it show. "Thanks."

"Of course, my Lord." The messenger bowed and left.

What a waste of time! Still… the interruption had given him a perfect excuse to hold Omi down and kiss him senseless.

He couldn't hold back a smile at that. Omi might be hard as steel in a fight, but he had a definite soft and pliant side in bed. The way his sweet lips had submitted and opened up to Ken's kiss… how his body had squirmed just so in response to the touch of Ken's skin on his… He had all but melted under the assault, surrendering completely but still shamelessly demanding more.

Just the mix of energy and softness that Ken liked best in a lover. And it seems so right for Omi, too - that's how I would've pictured him to be. He's so unassuming and at the same time so… alive. There are times when he'd make such an exciting lover - but I can just see one of those slow, achingly passionate moments with -

Ken stopped dead in his tracks.

Wait a minute… What am I thinking?

Omi… as a lover?

He started moving again, this time thoughtfully. His head was full of images… of Omi sitting, nearly naked, on his bed… Omi just out of the shower with droplets of water streaming down over his body… Omi underneath him, wrists caught, eyes half-lidded, chest rising and falling rapidly with passion…

God… Ken ducked back into his room, almost relieved when he found that the younger boy had left. He wasn't sure what he might've done if Omi had still been there. As it was, he sprawled out on his bed with a sigh, every inch of him reacting, still, to the memory of what had just been happening on that very spot.

What would have happened, if that servant hadn't come all the way inside?

Ken was overwhelmed - and the slightest bit frightened - to discover that he wasn't even sure if he would've been able to control himself. Even now, thinking about it… the desire to intimately be with Omi was overpowering. When did this happen? Was it just that kiss? Or is this something that's been building up all along without my noticing it? He didn't even care, and it was definitely useless to deny it. I want him! Christ, I want him bad! This isn't good…

The thought made him confused at the same time as it excited him; he felt flushed. Is it hot in here? He shrugged off the robe, and sprawled out again, thoughts whirling. I feel like I'm going to die…

It seemed like such a long time since his last lover… and an even longer time since his last male lover. He hadn't seriously lusted after another male for ages - he'd almost forgotten the forbidden, exciting edge to it. And the fact that Omi was a friend… a close friend, someone he'd known so long and never even noticed - or never thought he'd noticed… It was turning him on like nothing else. He could hardly explain it, but it seemed like he'd never felt anything quite like that fierce rush of passion.

Omi… Omi… what are you doing to me?

Ken ran a hand through his hair and let out a slow breath of air, feeling deliciously weak. Thoughts about Omi had such power over him… he was shocked and thrilled at the same time to discover it. My beautiful Omi. Mine. The big expressive eyes and soft, full lips. Mine. The silky pale skin and slight, hard body. Mine. The shapely thighs, slim hips, and tight, firm ass. All mine.

It would be so sweet… Omi, warm and sexy, in his arms… kissing, groping, grinding their bodies together sensuously… And what was stopping him, anyway? Why shouldn't they be together? There wasn't any reason why they couldn't be. If Omi was as willing as Ken seemed to think he was… well…

Not like anyone's going to care. Not around here.

The possibility made him dizzy with excitement. Omi acted like he enjoyed it when I kissed him… does he… could he really want…? Ken let that trail off, playing the thought around in his head for a while. Omi'd never been with a guy - heck, he doubted Omi had ever really been with anyone. So… maybe it'd be a good thing if his first time could be with a friend. Right?

Even as the thought ran through his head, Ken frowned. That's selfish! I'm only trying to justify it because I want this! It couldn't be all about him… not for Omi's first time. Heck, not for any time! If there was anything to be had, it'd have to be because they both wanted it.

So… what if Omi did want it?

It's not like people would mind. Hell, they expect it! The more he thought about it, the more it seemed like a good idea. If he hadn't been kidding himself - if there was a mutual attraction - what was the harm?

None whatsoever.


If Omi seems interested, Ken decided, finally convincing himself, then I'm definitely going for this!



Aya glanced at the blond man he was half dragging along with him. It was late, and there weren't too many people out, thankfully. They'd make an interesting picture.

Doesn’t he know by now how much alcohol he can tolerate?

He had a feeling Youji knew perfectly well. The taller man had gone to that affair with the intention of drinking himself into a stupor. It made sense, though - Youji had an obvious obsession with women; being shackled to another man had to grate on his nerves, even if it was just for a short while.

And that does bother me…

Just by standing and listening, Aya had managed to learn more about what was happening with the Roman political structure. Augustus Caesar was the name of the emperor - which Omi would, no doubt, know more about than he did. Aristaeus was the name of an aging Senator who was close to dying. Siloneus was the noble set to take his position when he died, and Nisus was next in line. That meant that they would more than likely be killing Siloneus after the old Senator died - and Nisus was their 'helper'.

And we'll find out whether or not we should be going along with this after we've killed Siloneus and Omi is safe.

Usually, Youji was good at pulling information out of people. However, Aya doubted he'd been able to get anything out of their recent experience. He was too preoccupied with the situation they were in to think about things like ensuring that their lives remained out of danger.

There was still a part of him that was alive enough to be hurt by the implied insult. As much as he'd worked, as stupid and pointless as it seemed, he couldn't rid himself of his own humanity. The question of 'what's wrong with me?' still echoed around in his head, even if he already knew the answer. He shouldn't be wasting thought on it!

But… there it was.

God damn him! He's getting to me.

They were almost at the door to the shop. "We're back," Aya said tonelessly, shifting the blonde on his shoulder so that he could get them both inside with as little trouble as possible. He wasn't even sure if Youji heard him, but he came along with no trouble.

It wasn't until they got back into the part that was their 'home' that he actually said anything.

"Aya?" The voice was groggy, but clear.

He stopped. "What?"

"F'we were going to actually have to fuck around" - He looked up blearily, with a hint of a smirk but not a mocking one - "top or bottom?"

Aya looked away. Why is he asking this? "It's not something I've thought about."

Even his cold tone didn't seem to deter the taller man. "I was wondering," he continued, not smirking any more. He actually looked interested. "Would you kill someone for calling you 'Ran' during sex? Aya's your sister, right? Seems a little weird."

For a moment, Aya felt as cold as his exterior suggested he was. That question almost seemed to squeeze him on the inside, so he couldn't breathe. Why do you keep asking? I am Aya now, for her. But… "If I were doing something like that," he finally managed, keeping an emotionless voice, "I wouldn't want a constant reminder that I was a killer for my sister's sake."

"Ah." Youji straightened clumsily and gave him a surprisingly perceptive look. "So… Ran, then?"

Shut up! Stop asking! "Yes."

Youji leaned forward, catching him off guard. "Well then," he said, in a tone Aya knew very well. It made his eyes widen. No… wait… "Can I call you Ran?"

The way he tilted his face down into it was achingly slow. Aya could've pulled away. He could've glared, could've pushed the blond away. Could've… but didn't. The hell with it. He tilted his chin in response and met the kiss without surprise or regret.

And lost what was left of his soul.

Youji could kiss. Even when drunk. Or maybe especially when drunk. There were years of practice in those motions - the way his tongue skillfully demanded entrance in a manner that invited no refusal, drawing Aya out with barely any effort. Very real passion danced between them, infusing the small room with a heat mostly imagined but more real than Aya had felt in a long time.

It couldn't last - nothing this good ever lasted - but there was a point where Aya couldn't care any more. So what if Youji was drunk? So what if this went against what he'd made himself into? He was still human, and at that point, all he wanted to do was feel. Not anger, not regret or fear, not sorrow, not anything tainted by bitterness.

Passion. Desire. It was one of the most basic drives, and in many ways the most satisfying. Knowing he was wanted, and wanting so fervently in return…

For the first time in a very long time, he just felt good.

"You are warm." Youji breathed out the words, voice low and seductive, mouth still close enough to Aya's so that it seemed like a soft kiss itself. His fingers brushed across the redhead's face, eyes half-lidded with passion - or maybe because of the alcohol. He caught Aya's lips, fully willing, a second time, and the shorter man could taste the drink in his mouth. It was heaven…

…and hell.

He's drunk. Aya pulled back at that reminder, suddenly cold again. He doesn't have a clue what he's doing; he'd fuck anything that moved right now. "Go to bed," he said abruptly, turning away.

Youji's hand rested on his shoulder, lingering. "Aren't you coming?"

He shrugged it off, mouth tightening. "I'm sitting up for a while."


He felt it when Youji moved away from him, stiff with rejection. The door to the bedroom opened and shut angrily, and he was alone.

Aya sat down and stared straight ahead, expressionless.