Pompeii Passions

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 10

A Visitor Arrives At Green Acres


Sextus admits it is too late to start searching for Tellus, and asks Philon and Arrius if they want to go upstairs, Arrius answers and Sextus playfully asks if he is jealous. Arrius says no, and asks Philon again if he truly loves Sextus.


Philandros had no idea what was troubling Arrius...in his mind, the two of them had said what was needed already, and his only concern was what Arrius would decide. He could not shake the idea that there was an unacknowledged sexual attraction between Arrius and Sextus – and could not understand why Arrius didn't just admit it.

Now, it seemed from Arrius' words that he had forgotten their private conversation on the night Sextus was wounded. How could that be, when Philandros had revealed his innermost feelings to this man? Had he not heard? In truth, he had walked out of the room without answering, but Philandros had thought he merely needed time to make a decision.

"Arrius...I love Sextus with all my heart, and would never do anything knowingly to hurt him – we had this discussion the night he was wounded...have you forgotten already?" The surprise and hurt was evident in the greek's voice.

Only feet away, Sextus' ears pricked up. In his surprise, Philandros had forgotten his lover's close proximity...despite the strong arm about his waist.

"Discussion? What discussion was that Arrius?...Philandros?"

The boy visibly paled – he had never intended for Sextus to learn of that talk – and he himself had just let the secret out! Too late, his words were already out – it remained for Arrius to speak, since Philandros felt he had said too much already!


Sextus insists on a frank discussion – no lies, no evasions. He says he loves them both, and wants the three of them to live together!


Philandros felt the strength of Sextus' grip, and yet he took no relief from it, no complacency, no inner stores of resolve flowed through it to him. He glanced back and forth between his lover and his lover's closest friend. More than ever, he felt like a trapped animal, but there was no way out...by his own inexperience he had put himself in the snare, and the rope had tightened. He knew the only recourse open was full confession – not that he had intended to hide things from Sextus – but he had hoped for resolution of the matter so that disclosure of the conversation between Arrius and himself would never be necessary.

He started to speak, swallowed, and tried again. "Sextus, my soul and body are yours, forever and completely without reservation. Your happiness comes before mine, your every desire becomes mine...but on one issue, I must say that another person shares space with you; in this one area, my inexperience and youth are a disadvantage, and my instinct was to go to this person, and be completely honest."

Philandros caught a momentary glance from Sextus to Arrius, and the greek nodded. "Yes...Arrius is this other person whose advice I sought the other night. As his evident concern for you is so great, and yours for him – I put a proposition to him which has yet to be answered. You admit to loving him on the same levels as myself...with the only difference being that the physical aspect of this love is not returned – so far as you and he are aware. I have seen the interplay between you, and I think rightly or wrongly, that Arrius is physically attracted to you as well, but cannot admit it for some reason."

Arrius opened his mouth to say something, but Philandros raised his hand to stop any comment. "Please, Arrius...let me finish; Because of this, I made a promise to Arrius: I did not want to come between you and destroy your deep friendship for one another – I felt that you would come to resent me if Arrius left, and rather than see you hurt either directly or indirectly by me because of Arrius – I told him I would make an excuse of some sort and leave you if he found himself unable to accept my presence – and that I would not mention that conversation to you."

Philandros looked pleadingly into Sextus' eyes, gripping his hand with both of his own. For the moment, the world held only Sextus and himself.

"Sextus, all I have said is true of my love and devotion for you, inadequately as the words are to describe the depth of my feeling – and yet, I do not want to come between you and Arrius in any way. Because of the true depth of my love for you and your happiness, I will take my leave if Arrius wishes it – for the bond between the two of you predates that between us, my love...my heart...I can see no way out other than that."

Philandros looked to Arrius to speak next...he was afraid to look into Sextus' eyes...afraid of what he might see there if he did – the agony of indecision or worse – the fear of a decision already made.


Arrius boils it down: they all love each other and there is no need for anyone to go anywhere else. No need for them to act emotional like a group of women. Arrius says the search for Tellus will begin tomorrow, and asks for Olaf to help – he then jokes about getting naked and drunk.


Philandros was feeling relieved at Arrius' words of love and apology, but also ill-at-ease; had all this drama been of his own doing – was he seeing what wasn't there, or at least misinterpreting what he saw? He just couldn't say...he hadn't enough experience with the world at large to judge properly. He could have sworn that Arrius had been physically attracted to Sextus – but see what disaster had almost come from his assumptions! He resolved never again to make that mistake!

Discussion over, Arrius suggested getting drunk and naked, and once his shock had given way, Philandros felt a drink was in order...if not the nakedness. Sextus held no such inhibitions, and at once tossed off his tunic...revealing that muscled form he loved so much. "Sextus – not in public – please!" he begged, for they were still standing by the stairs.

Sextus smiled with his evillest grin, and grabbed the boy in his arms and carried him up to their bedroom. Arrius followed, slowly, wondering if drinking was what Sextus intended for the next round of activities. Flinging open the door, Sextus tossed Philandros onto the huge bed, and jumped in as well. He motioned for Arrius to join them.

Philandros sat up, poking Sextus in the ribs – hard. "Behave, my love! We are going to drink a while...that's what Arrius is here for...nothing else!" At the look of sadness on his love's face, Philandros relented just a bit. "Later tonight...you'll not regret the delay – I promise!" This last was whispered into an ear being nibbled gently.

Arrius poured wine for them all, and it wasn't long before the flask was empty. Sextus lounged on the bed in just his loincloth, while Arrius and himself were still fully clothed. Arrius raised the jug, and was dismayed to find it empty. He and Sextus had drunk their wine straight, unlike Philandros, who preferred it well-watered. They laughed at the look on Arrius' face, and the greek grabbed the jug and went for the door.

"I'll fetch more...you two finish what you have and I'll be back soon!" He left the two romans to it, and went down the stairs headed for the cellars. He looked casually around, but saw no sign of Olaf – or Hermes, for that matter! Had Arrius been right? One of the other servants approached, saying that a stranger had arrived...and wanted to know what to do with him.

Philandros shrugged, and was about to turn away, when he caught sight of the visitor from the corner of his eye. He was on the far side of the atrium, trying to be invisible in the shadows. Intrigued, he walked toward the atrium. "Who are you? Come out where I can see you properly..."

The figure stepped forward, nervously fingering his dusty clothing. Despite the travel-stained attire, there was nothing common about the body inside...Philandros had never seen a prettier boy – or one more in need of a friend. I am attracting lost souls! he thought with a grin.

Before the boy could say much of anything, Philandros took him by the arm, and led him toward the baths. He exchanged names with the boy as they went, followed by the servant. Philandros laughed, and handed him the jug. "We need this refilled, and find a set of clothes for our visitor while his are cleaned – I think I have something in my case..." He eyed the boy up and down as he slowly removed his dusty tunic and sandals before slipping into the heated waters of the tub. "I think the green chiton will do. Oh, and tell Sextus I'll be right up – with a guest!"

The servant departed to follow Philandros' instructions, and the greek turned his attention back to the new arrival who was busily scrubbing his lightly-muscled chest. Philandros grabbed another sponge, and began on the boy's back, and asked about his story.


Sextus and Arrius relax while Philon assists their visitor, Hylas – who was on his way to Pompeii when his horse got lame. The two romans relax upstairs, then Sextus comes down to find Philon, helping Hylas take a bath.


Philandros glanced from his lover to their guest and he had to admit that Hylas was a striking bit of work, but his gaze lingered longest on the body of Sextus. Had he been fifteen again he might have preferred his fellow greek to his lover...but he now knew what delights Sextus could perform, and would trade them for nothing on earth.

He handed Hylas a towel to dry himself, and smiled at Sextus. Should he toy with his lover, or do a properly formal introduction however informal the current situation? Remembering the tricks Sextus played on him...Philandros' grin widened and his green eyes sparkled.

"Sextus – put your eyes back in your head!" He looked down the bronzed muscles until his eyes alighted on the roman's bulging loincloth. "And you can make that behave too! We have company, and that is no way to say hello!"

"Oh, I don't know...it worked with you, didn't it?" Sextus retorted with an even more mischievous tone. "So, who is our wandering treasure?"

Hylas was bending over tying his sandals, and Philandros saw that Sextus was still staring, even though he had seen everything their visitor had to offer. Was Hylas to be competition? Philandros immediately threw that thought aside...the devotion of the roman had been declared more than once, as he had affirmed his own eternal love.

As Hylas stood up, running his hands over the green cloth and twisting seductively to examine every inch of himself, the greek had to admit the newcomer was well worth looking at! He felt his own interest growing, and it was Sextus' turn to chide him for impolite behaviour. They all three laughed, Sextus deeply and robustly and the two younger men in a lighter tone.

"Sextus Manlius, the owner of our paradise...I present to you Hylas Anaximandros of Korinthos. His horse became lamed, and he sought out a place to rest. I didn't think you'd mind, and I was just getting him cleaned up to present to you."

Sextus grasped the boy's arm in a firm grip, gauging Hylas' character from the return pressure. "Welcome to Green Acres, Hylas! Come up and meet the rest of our little family!"

Sextus draped an arm around the boy's shoulders and the other around Philandros' waist. He steered them out into the hall and toward the stairs. Just in time, Philandros grabbed the jug of wine which had been placed near the door. His other hand, he snaked around Sextus' back, and began to massage his lover's left thigh with his fingertips.

"Remember, love...save your strength for later...you're going to need it!" he whispered breathily in his love's ear, pressing his thigh against Sextus' right.

Wait a minute! My fingers are touching two thighs...and those other fingers aren't mine!


On the way upstairs, the slave Hermes informs them that Arrius has a female visitor...Sextus tells him she will have to wait. Hermes informs her that Arrius is occupied upstairs with three other men! The four men are enjoying a nice time with a pair of sponges when Sextus tells Arrius of his visitor. We see some of Olaf's thoughts.


OLAF'S STORY:

The slave market in Pompeii had been a novelty...never in his short life had he seen so many buildings, or people in one place – not even in a law-meeting of the tribes at home. And this language they spoke...it sounded so strange to him, all soft consonants and flat vowels. He cursed the day he had ever left his home in Uppsala. Curiosity had been his bane his entire life – and now it looked as if he would never see home again.

After the shipwreck, he had been picked up and sent south in a batch of slaves, unable to speak with these dark-skinned dwarfs who seemed to run everything. His eyes had missed very little on the way south: some of the lands contained germans or celts...all holding the lower strata of society, while the richest spots seemed to be held by the dwarf-folk. There had to be some magic at work here...that such peoples could be held in thrall by their obvious inferiors. Indeed, such magic must already have affected him – for he had lost Thor's protection the moment his ship had rounded the Cimbrian peninsula and headed southwest for the Iceni shore of Britannia. The Norns had saved his life, but tossed him on a cursèd shore forsaken by the Æsir!

By cuffing and cursing, he had picked up a few words of the barbaric speech of the southlands...and he had learned a bit from listening to a german captive. He could follow basic commands, but the only real words he could speak were 'Yes', 'No' – never to be used to the dwarven folk – and words to convey the idea of 'eat', 'drink' and 'piss'.

Resigned to his fate...whatever it might be...he had understood when the cute one had appeared that there was an attraction to him, and he resolved to capitalize on it if possible. Much to his surprise, a very heroic looking dwarf had purchased him, and then he had followed him and the cute one to their home! Somehow he knew, the All-Father Odin had smiled on him and given him a second chance which he would not waste.

When he was left unattended, he looked around a bit, seeing a large house which had seen better times, but was being repaired. Should he let be known his talents with paint and music? He would wait, and see what developed before committing himself to any course of action. A sign would come to guide him....

It was at this point that a boy who seemed to wield some power over the other slaves appeared, and stared wide-eyed at Olaf's gigantic form. The gaze grew more amazed and intense the longer it stayed on his body – from silver-white hair to pale muscled shoulders, and even further down to the areas hidden by his scanty clothing. Olaf did not mistake the look of hunger in those eyes...and though he had little experience of the world...he took his pleasure where and with whomever the subject arose...male or female was all the same to him, until he would need sons to fight in the battles of his tribe – and that day seemed far distant. He allowed the youth to take his hand, and they went to his room, where Olaf learned that sex among the dwarven folk was the same as in the lands of men – if perhaps a bit louder....

Was this the sign of the gods...how he should conduct his life in this baked land of eternal heat?

OLAF'S STORY ENDS


While Arrius sees his female visitor, Sextus and Philon talk with Hylas, learning he is a runaway slave; eventually, Sextus agrees to help him start over, working in the villa.


As Philandros listened with horror to Sextus' words seeming to pronounce Hylas' death, his stomach nearly gave up its contents. This could not be his beloved – and when Sextus continued with his idea, he breathed a sigh of relief. He smiled at the plan Sextus had worked out...but waited to speak until his love had finished.

"Sextus...so like a roman! Direct, logical...and expensive! This is less expensive and satisfies everyone: yes, Hylas dies – figuratively still – but there will be no investigation by a prying owner, because we send them a body!"

Philandros laughed at the looks given him by both Sextus and their guest Hylas. "No...we just send them an urn of ashes – say from a pig we can have for dinner. Ashes are ashes, and some burnt bones from the pig will make it seem real. The story is much the same: an accident, he confessed to being a runaway, and we got the name of his master before he died. In compensation, we send the amount he was worth – and maybe just a little something extra for the inconvenience. To send more would be sure to arouse suspicion!"

Sextus thought it over for some time, then burst out laughing. "Philandros – you are clever in every way! I always said, there's nothing slipperier than a greek – in or out of bed!"

Philandros nodded...he would prove the truth of that statement tonight to Sextus' delight! He motioned for Hylas to sit back down with them, and rubbed the boy's shoulders to calm him. The poor boy had had a very trying day, and Sextus' teasing had certainly been no help. An idea occurred to him for a job Hylas could do for them...if he was willing to work hard!

"If Hylas really wants something to do...I have an idea..."

Sextus grinned evilly, and Philandros swatted him yet again. He started to apologize to Hylas, but saw a similar look on his own face. There is some more discussion coming up, I can tell! Philandros was nearly distracted by the thought of the three of them together...but he had no idea what Sextus would say. Romans had trouble sometimes, separating love and sex.

"Anyhow...if Hylas is willing, he can undertake the job of teaching Olaf our language – that boy is a danger to himself and others until he can follow instructions beyond the most basic of gestures."

Philandros looked to Sextus on his right, and Hylas on his left. He gave each of their shoulders a friendly and reassuring squeeze.

"What do you say, Hylas? Are you willing to spend a lot of effort on Olaf – teach him what he needs to know?"

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