Pompeii Passions

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 5

Amorous Talk & Action At The Villa

Sextus and Philon talk of families: Sextus has no desire for a wife or children, though he admits to having had several women lovers claim he fathered children with them. He admits to having slept with several women, and many men since he was 14. Philon learns Sextus is 27, and Sextus tells him that he could find love only with a man – Philon, if he would agree to it.

As he listened to Sextus Manlius talk of his past...the many men – and women too – Philandros couldn't help showing his surprise...and horror! What have I done! kept going through his mind, but it didn't block out the words of Sextus' other experiences, or his easy dismissal of them. It was only his last words which stuck in his head and drove out the shock: 'I could find love with you if you let me.'

He laughed with Sextus' jokes on his attractiveness – and yet, he still harbored fears; would Sextus tire of him in a few days or weeks despite his protestations of wanting to love him? would Philandros live up to the expectations which Sextus had no doubt come to expect in a lover? How can I? Philandros thought gloomily to himself. My experiences with sex can be numbered on the fingers of one hand – HA! – one finger of one hand! Unless you count times by myself alone...then my experiences are almost limitless!

It occurred to Philandros that he had not yet answered Sextus' offer of love...had much time passed as he considered, or only an instant? Sextus would think him fickle if he delayed his answer for long! His look into Sextus' eyes melted all his doubts away...for now...and he pressed his lips again eagerly to those of his new love.

Eventually their lips parted: "Sextus, forgive me – I think I am a boy yet in many ways...or at least an inexperienced hayseed! Because I love you with all my heart and want us to be as one...I have to tell you something – I am still a virgin! My experiences with Gallus the stable boy didn't go beyond kisses and embracing and the use of our hands...." Damn it, he was blushing yet again!

Philandros could see amusement on Sextus' face...which added slightly to his apprehension. "I will do my best to please you in every way...but you will have to teach me! I – I hope you will come to love me as much as I love you, as one eternal soul loves another – and won't tire of me too soon!"

Sextus assures Philon that he won't tire of him, and says he will be honored to teach him in the art of love. He says he will make it a special night, and will have Philon brought to Green Acres the next night, then departs.

For many minutes Philandros stood unmoving in the dining room after Sextus had left. Had he tried to move, it would most likely have been impossible – it seemed as if his body had locked itself in the position Sextus had given it – turned to stone by the twin fires of lust and dismay his lover had ignited there!

The gods hate me – that I must wait an entire day and a night to be one with him! How shall I survive this eternity? I am dying!

A quiet cough made its way into his head eventually. He looked around to see Tellus gathering up the dishes with a very definitely disapproving expression on his face – his throat-clearing had been his way of commenting without having to say anything directly which might be offensive to his owners. Under Philandros' gaze, he finally spoke: "I don't like it...it's not right."

Philandros felt his jaw clench angrily. "What?"

Tellus sat down the dishes and squared his shoulders. "All right...he's not good enough for you...he'll use you and then toss you aside in a few days or weeks! You heard him say it yourself – he's had dozens – maybe hundreds of lovers! What could he want from you besides the obvious?"

So much like his own thoughts!...then he recalled the tone of Sextus' voice, and the soft look of his eyes. "You were listening! I'll answer you that one, then you will speak of it no more – to anyone! 'What could he want?' you ask; he could want me...for myself – for the love I have to offer him without reservation or judgment! For the sacredness and purity of the bond which can exist only between men. Because he has finally found that which he was searching for!"

Philandros strode out of the room, to his bedchamber – wherever that might be – and flung a final glare over his shoulder. "I meant what I said: for so long as Sextus and I are together, you will show him nothing but respect – or you go up on the auction block right after, family retainer or not!"

Eventually, he found his bedroom on the far side of the garden, and selected a fresh chiton and cloak for the day. He belted the pale blue garment about him, and fastened the shoulder with a green glass fibula, and draped the square himation of dark blue about his shoulders carelessly. He combed his hair and secured it with the same silver fillet before making his way out the front door. He asked Grumio the way to the main forum, and nodded at the directions...didn't sound too far.

"I'll be back for dinner...just want to look around for a bit."

His feet had him out the door and headed west to the town's main shopping area before he knew it...gradually slowing his pace as his temper coolled.

I wonder what sort of present Sextus would like…

Tellus intercepts and destroys a letter from Sextus setting up an account of 10,000 sesterces for Philandros with a banker while Philon is out shopping. He wants Sextus to stay away from his master, with his corrupting ways and whorish lifestyle.

Philandros' route to the Forum took him past several insulae, whose shop fronts consisted mainly of bakeries, to judge by the displays. Graffiti covered portions of walls, some professionally done and others obviously the work of children or foreigners. Signs endorsing Holconius seemed to be everywhere...but Philandros had no idea who he was, or what he was running for. He passed the Macellum on his left, and entered the forum proper by the Temple of Jupiter at it's northern end.

Before him stretched several rows of shops...where it appeared you could buy almost anything. Since the afternoon break was nearly over, the shops were again attracting customers. He heard fragments of many dialects, and quite a few barbarian tongues whose origins he could only guess at by the dress of the speaker. In addition to foreigners buying and selling, he spotted several women strolling in and out of shops – some unaccompanied by slaves!

He went through several shops without any particular gift striking him as suitable for Sextus, and found a seller of honey cakes to stave off hunger. He washed it down with a drink from one of the public fountains, and went in search of more likely places for a gift. In one small shop, he found something he thought Sextus would like, and began his walk home with his new find.

With his thoughts filled with Sextus and their coming night together, he failed to hear a woman's voice call to him from the far side of the Forum. Had he looked, he would have seen Messalina, whom he had met at a party for actors in Rome – on the one and only time his grandfather had gone there on business.

In an effort to mend things with Tellus, he picked up a half dozen of the citrus rolls which the old man liked, and was actually whistling as he approached the vestibule of his new town house. As he knocked, he spotted a scrap of papyrus on the sidewalk and idly picked it up. Torn from a larger piece, it contained only two letters – 'E R'. He puzzled over this until Grumio opened the door, then handed the scrap to him for disposal.

"We must keep the place clean now, Grumio. There are people living here again, and we must present a good impression." He spotted another scrap, behind the door as Grumio closed and locked it. "Really! Get Tellus in here to sweep!"

As Philandros entered the atrium, Tellus entered the far end, and the boy set the still-warm rolls on the table. "These are for the three of you...those citrus rolls you like so much, Tellus. I'm sorry I was harsh with you earlier – you only want what's best for me. First, sweep the entrance...there's some paper which someone threw on the ground..."

Tellus nodded and bowed low, a move which hid his smirk of triumph from Philandros' retreating form.

Sextus sends a litter for Philon, arranging everything for a perfect evening; seeing the greek arrive, he is overcome and picks him up and carries him to his bedroom, making a toast with his best wine. He vows to be Philon's from this day forward.

For what seemed the thousandth time, Philandros went over his attire for the evening: sea-green chiton with the embroidered silver dolphin border, blue cloak with acanthus leaf hem (also in silver) and his best dark grey boots. His hair...for tonight was unconfined by its usual fillet, and his reddish brown locks reached just past his ears onto his neck. He had spent what seemed like hours at the Central Baths next door getting oiled, scraped and massaged. He sported a new essence today...something from Indica – pachulos? the vendor had called it.

As he waited for the escort to arrive, his stomach turned several times in nervous anticipation. He hadn't eaten since breakfast, and only a little bread and fruit even then – the idea of food seemed to make him sick, which he knew was false, but he still abstained...taking only a little fruit juice.

Sextus had sent a – litter! The four bearers were all oiled gauls – huge and blond...and two other servants besides! Philandros climbed aboard, hands sweating as he held his gift to Sextus tightly. By the time the litter reached Green Acres, Philandros had become strangely calm...fear had gone, nervousness was gone, to be replaced by a confidence he hoped was more than surface deep.

At the villa, he saw Sextus...who was pacing before the villa entrance. Was he – nervous? Philandros couldn't believe that for a moment – not Sextus! He got out of the litter, and slowly approached his love, looking into his eyes for a moment before telling him how much he had missed him in the past day!

Without a word, Sextus had scooped him up into his arms and into the house! He had known Sextus was strong...but this took his breath away; what had he gotten himself into?! As they whirled through the atrium and on toward the bedroom, Philandros got a whiff of dinner cooking, a sight of a beautifully set up dining room, and a statue of a recently unpacked Priapus.

In a final rush, Philandros found himself deposited on a huge bed in the room which just recently had contained two couches, and being handed a cup of excellent wine...Setinian? Sextus was making a toast...to them! – and he finished with: "...I am yours from this day forward."

Philandros took a small sip of the wine, letting its essence spread through his senses. "Sextus, my hero – my Atlas! You have seized my world with your mighty arms, and turned it into your private Elysium! There will never be another for me – man or woman! Whatever the Fates have in store, you will be my Zeus, my Apollo, my Hercules...and my Eros! The only god I will worship from this day forward!"

He drank half his cup, and had to stretch almost his whole length to set it on the table, as Sextus laughed at the sight. Philandros laughed as well, and reached a hand out to his roman god, pulling him onto the bed beside him. "Isn't it a bit...warm, tonight?"

Sextus smiled, taking the hint, and began to remove Philon's sandals, with great attention to each lace and section of tanned skin thus revealed. Philandros made a move to assist, but Sextus stopped him. "Your turn in a while...this package is mine to unwrap."

And his deft fingers moved up to the green-blue chiton, removing the fibula holding the shoulder closed. His fingers lowered the cloth while lightly brushing the hairless muscles of the greek's pectorals. As his lips followed where his fingers had gone, Philandros could feel his entire body begin to tingle with a thousand sensations, all of them agonizingly pleasant. When only his loincloth remained...Sextus stopped, planting a kiss on his lips, and a hand over Philon's much-strained undergarment.

"Your turn now, my love..." he said, lying back with a totally ungodlike grin of anticipation.

Sextus and Philon make love that night, each declaring that they have found everything they need from a lover. Arrius Flavius brings news of a distressing nature from Sextus' friend Messalina, and Sextus tells Arrius to deal with it while he and Philon continue their amorous adventures.

Once Arrius had left, there's a story there which I must uncover! Philandros thought...Sextus began a new round of lessons in love which the boy found thoroughly enjoyable but different from the night before. When they had finished and again lay side by side covered in perspiration, Philandros couldn't help asking quietly: "Did it help, Sextus?"

The look on Sextus' face was one of complete confusion. "Help what?" He turned his head a fraction and kissed his lover's smooth cheek.

Philandros returned the gesture, pressing closer to his god before speaking again. "Are you less angry now...with this Messalina?"

Sextus gave a rueful smile, and slid his arm beneath Philon's head so he could pull the boy closer; he had momentarily forgotten how perceptive he was for his age! "I'm sorry, love...I didn't mean it to be that way. I turned to you and, well, you just do something to me! I can't seem to resist your call...my little siren!"

With a smile and a soft kiss to Sextus' chin, Philandros nodded. "All right...this time! I am here for you in any mood...but talk to me first so I can best know how to comfort you!" This time, the impish grin belonged to the greek.

"Do you need comforting again, my Atlas?"

Eventually, a soft knocking came to their ears, followed by a quiet voice. "Master, the cook wishes to know if you want dinner served to you here, or in the dining room?"

At Sextus' confused look, Philandros laughed. "My god may exist on love alone, but I haven't eaten since yesterday morning! Mortals such as I can't live on nectar alone!"

Sextus smiled, and gave a barking laugh. "We'll eat here, Hermes! The best we have!" He turned to Philandros and added in a throaty voice: "The best, for the best!"

Philandros sprang up, and wrapped his cloak about himself. "I forgot something – I'll be right back!" he said, and dashed from the room. A frantic sprint to the atrium revealed that his gift had been placed there on a table. The boy grabbed it, and took a quick glance at the Priapus as he passed it again.

"Don't look so pleased with yourself...you're not the biggest in this house now!"

When he reëntered the bedroom, he saw that Sextus had poured fresh wine for them, but had not yet covered himself. Philandros threw off his cloak, and handed Sextus his gift...a small stone plaque carved with a sleeping cat, and the legend: A SMALL HOME, GREAT PEACE.

"I hope you like it – I know it's not much...but it's all I can afford right now!"

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