sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-12 10:05 am
Entry tags:

Outside of Rome. R, Brutus/Cassius

Summary: Brutus and Cassius make plans.
Warnings: None.

Brutus, I do observe you now of late;
I have not from your eyes that gentleness
And show of love as I was wont to have.
You bear too stubborn and too strange a hand
Over your friend that loves you.
-- Cassius, 1.ii

Sometimes, he felt that nothing at the villa rustica was real; that it was all a strange dream, and some day he would wake in the other house, the urbana, without remembering how he had come from here to there. Then he would know for sure.

When he was a young child he had believed that nothing existed outside of Rome. How could it? Rome was the world, and there was nothing he needed which Rome could not provide. And then he had grown older and politically, he had still believed it. Did not all roads lead there? Rome was the ruler of the known lands, and every day the soldiers pushed it further, but those soldiers and lands were no more real than the lead toys they sold in the markets.

Rome was the beginning and the end of the world, Rome was Egypt and Greece, Rome was (now) Britain, Rome was art, politics, mathematics, philosophy, theatre.

Then this, he decided, might be the otherworld. He was unsure whether it was his punishment or his blessing.

It was cold at the Villa Rustica Bruti, but then it was always cooler than the city house. The architect had explained that this was because of the water: the river nearby, the fountain in the courtyard, the two smaller ones flanking the entranceway. Water, he said, remembered being cold, and wished to return to that state; the more you heated it, the more it would struggle, and that was why boiling water bubbled.

Cold, even in summer, especially in winter; a house his wife Portia had decorated, but never came to. She'd had good taste, though. He remembered watching the painters decorate the bedroom, remembered the smell of the limewater binding in the pigments. The painters themselves were lovely young men, but low-born, and no better than craftsmen. No matter how deft their fingers, they were poorly paid and would never be rich.

He wondered idly why they did it.

The thin pencillium they used, though, the tiny bone-handled brushes with hogsbristle ends, or sometimes finely clipped human hair -- he had many uses he could imagine for those.

A hand lay across his stomach, as he stared at the painting of Venus Misericordia on one of the walls -- had that been Portia's joke, perhaps? Venus the changer of hearts, punisher of those who did not pay her heed.

The hand stirred, gently.

"I knew I was right to follow you out of Rome," said a voice, indistinct under the blankets. Brutus smiled, and arched his back, stretching lazily. He was not water, he decided; he did not struggle against the warm heat of a body next to him.

"You thought I was meeting someone," Brutus chided, feeling the blunt fingertips curl against his abdomen. Cassius' deep voice vibrated against his shoulder. "Someone other than you."

"I was not jealous," Cassius rumbled. "I'm loyal to you."

"I don't ask for loyalty."

"You don't have to."

It was hard to tell, with Cassius, where speaking stopped and kissing began. He liked to talk into Brutus' skin, into his mouth, and the movements of his lips could sometimes be taken for whispered supplications, words Brutus couldn't hear. Cassius spoke prayers into his body and he never knew what they were.

Of course that was the least of what Cassius could do, he thought, as the scratch of the other man's jaw rubbed the sensitive skin above his collarbone.

"I came to speak with you," Cassius said, mouth on his neck, the hand that had been on his stomach now straying to his hip, the hard bone and muscle there. Brutus was built broadly, like a boxer; Cassius was lean, and sinewy rather than muscular, almost still boyish.


"Oh yes, to speak to me," Brutus agreed, taking a sharp breath as Cassius found the sensitive place behind his jaw, below his shaggy brown hair.

"I have always been loyal to you, wise counsel, good friend," Cassius said in his ear. "Soldier..." and a word that could have been brother, but could have been another more intimate term, as well.

Brutus writhed under Cassius' arms, the body half-pinning him, half-not.

"Loyal is not the word for it," he gasped.

Cassius kissed his lips, and smiled down on him. "Would you suggest a deeper tie?" he took one of Brutus' hands, extending thumb and forefinger and pressing the half-circle of fingers to his neck, where an old scar lay. An enemy had tried to slit his throat, and met Brutus' sword instead.

"Slaves wear collars," he said softly. Brutus drew his finger down the scar, thumb straying to rub the sharp angle of Cassius' chin.

"Then where is mine?" Brutus inquired. Cassius moaned, softly.

"I would see you greater than Rome," he said, voice rough, eyes roaming Brutus' face. "Brutus, tell me..."

"Mmm," Brutus answered, busy exploring Cassius' lips with his fingers.

"Can you see your face?"

Brutus laughed, and Cassius let his head drop to the corner of blanket drawn up over Brutus' other shoulder.

"No, you must tell me how it looks," he answered.

"So you have no mirror," Cassius continued, "with which to see the worth of your own soul."

Brutus smiled, and stroked the dark hair. "You're too much a poet, Cassius."

"This age is too unused to poets," Cassius answered. Brutus bit his lip as Cassius slid a hand down his chest, over his hip again, exploring places well-mapped, long ago, when they were young and --

-- and outside Rome.

"Surely not," Brutus gasped, hips moving against Cassius' fingers, hands reaching for Cassius' taut body.

"Do you love Rome?" Cassius asked, biting his neck. It took Brutus a moment to form the word.

"Yes -- "

"Do you love...your friend?"

"Cassius, oh..."

Cassius smiled that wolfish smile, and bent low. "Would you kill for him?"

Brutus was aware only of the hands and lips, the body moving with him now, the words that could not be strung together.

"Would you kill for Rome? Would you kill for your Cassius?"

"Yes," he moaned, back arching, wanting more, willing to do anything to keep Cassius from ever, ever stopping.

"Prove yourself," Cassius grated, breath hot on his temple, words ringing in his ear. His fingers flicked, deftly, and Brutus knew nothing for a brief moment.

Cassius, still smiling, bent closer still, and spoke a single word against his mouth.



No, Cassius, no.
Think not, thou noble Roman,
That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;
He bears too great a mind.
-- Brutus, 5.i

(obsessives like me will recognize the Mirror speech from Act 1 of Shakespeare's version. Hey, why ruin a good thing?)

[identity profile] 2005-08-22 08:03 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh Sam, this was lovely...

[identity profile] 2005-08-24 04:53 am (UTC)(link)

you kill me, this is beautiful. in that thoroughly roman sort of way. they are perfect, they are beautiful.

[identity profile] 2006-06-01 12:19 am (UTC)(link)

*blinks* Wow. How very... Spartan.

*puts Latin nerd hat on* Just a couple of cool things I noticed while reading: Venus, in addition to ruling over love, is closely associated with Caesar through the Iulus/Aeneas/Anchises bloodline, so when Venus Misercordia is watching Brutus and Cassius, Caesar is watching them. O_o Also, a nitpick - It's unlikely that Cassius would have considered Rome "the real world" and the country "the unreal world," since he was definitely a country-worshipper; as a Roman politician, he would have at least superficially focused on his estates, while pretending that he "only dabbled in" politics... Very weird lot, Roman politicos. Anyway *hat off* lovely fic, and don't mind me... I just stumbled in here by way of R/S and wound up stalking through the archives... *skips off whistling to Wilson/House*

[identity profile] 2006-06-01 01:54 pm (UTC)(link)
Thanks :) Yeah, I was aiming for the subtle hint with Venus, so it's neat that someone caught it :)

I hadn't actually read a biography of Brutus when I wrote this -- our Roman Lives course was focused more on the later Julio-Claudians. So that's interesting to know about his Pastoral side. Though one could read into it that he liked fantasy better than reality...*grins*

[identity profile] 2006-12-03 05:44 am (UTC)(link)
Oh my God. Wow. Amazing.

[identity profile] 2006-12-04 12:07 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you!

Is the Flash...holding a goat in your icon?

[identity profile] 2006-12-04 01:40 am (UTC)(link)
Lol, yes! I have no idea where I got it from since I've had it so long.

[identity profile] 2007-04-22 03:26 pm (UTC)(link)
Interesting, and very well-written (as usual). I'm concerned about a possible flattening-out of Brutus' motives - in Shakespeare's version, he arrives at a tortured and compromised decision, determined to commit evil for the greater good. In comparison, sexual infatuation seems a bit weak, and deprives him of his own autonomy - making him a slave to his desire for Cassius would make a lot of the conflict of Acts IV and V a lot less believable.

[identity profile] 2007-04-22 03:49 pm (UTC)(link)
*nods* I fretted about that a bit when I wrote it, but as I envisioned it, the sexual factor is only one of the many factors that Brutus had to contend with -- I still see him agonising over whether to kill a king or keep a friend. Cassius, in the Shakespeare, is a huge factor in his decision -- for me it's more that Cassius is here making the request as a lover, not merely as a friend.

But that's hard to bring across in the writing, it's true.

[identity profile] 2007-04-22 05:25 pm (UTC)(link)
Very true, but Cassius is a factor in the decision more in the capacity of "I can persuade you to believe it" rather than, "I'm asking you a favour - do it for me."

It's still a very good story. I'm just very picky. :)

"Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like a colossus -
And we petty men walk under his huge legs
and peep about to find ourselves
dishonourable graves. The fault, dear Brutus,
is not in our stars, but in our selves,
that we are underlings." - Act I scene i

[identity profile] 2007-06-21 03:35 am (UTC)(link)
Oh Sam, You must do more like this. It's so perfectly lovely.

[identity profile] 2007-06-21 03:38 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I don't write in the classics often for fear of getting something wrong, but when I do I love doing it :)

[identity profile] 2007-06-21 11:50 am (UTC)(link)
Well, I'm almost a walking History Encyclopedia.....could I possibly persuade you to do more, and check it for you?

[identity profile] 2007-06-21 09:24 pm (UTC)(link)
Alas, I wish it worked that way. I find it hard to write if I don't know what I'm writing. I'll keep you in mind as a beta if I do any more, though!

[identity profile] 2007-06-22 03:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Works for me.

[identity profile] 2007-09-04 01:56 am (UTC)(link)
Guh. This is lovely and gorgeous.

I can't remember how I stumbled on to this, but I'm very glad that I did. Here's hoping that you might write more.

[identity profile] 2007-09-04 12:32 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you!