Pompeii Passions

by ColumbusGuy

Chapter 15

Sextus invites Memnoch to move into Green Acres, much to Hylas' dismay; in Pompeii, Giton moves into Philon's house since his 'keeper' threw him out – a message arrives for Philandros, and he takes it to Green Acres.

Philandros twisted around in the pool, taking hold of Hylas' hands. He looked into the boy's eyes and saw deep emotion there...anger – and hatred? He kissed the clenched fists until he felt Hylas relax a bit, then leaned in so that their faces were cheek to cheek. He nuzzled the dark-haired slave's ear gently as he spoke: "You've met Memnoch before..." he felt Hylas tense up again, so Philandros kissed his ear gently and then continued on across the boy's cheek to his lips.

"Hylas, if you know something which endangers Sextus or anyone else...then you must speak!" He gazed steadily into those troubled eyes, until Hylas broke the silence with a small sigh.

"Oh! – you will think I'm making this up...but I swear, it's true...." He told of how he knew of Memnoch, of the man's wily and devious nature, of the fears he had for what the egyptian planned at Green Acres. Philandros listened, but Hylas could see doubt in his master's eyes...the idea that someone could be inherently evil just didn't exist in his view of the world; deceitful, yes – even sadistic perhaps – but to be so full of malice and envy and greed as to shut out any good impulses was totally alien to him. And thus, Hylas feared all the more for their paradise at Green Acres.

"Hylas, dear Hylas...I can see how you might think the worst of this man – but in everyone there is goodness – it may be buried deeply, but in the end it will win out! I believe this with all my heart, otherwise life would not be worth living."

Philandros took the sponge, and began to gently run it over Hylas' chest and shoulders. He continued until he felt the boy relax, then he leaned back against the edge of the pool, hugging his fellow greek against him in silence...enjoying the warmth of the water and the slick wetness of Hylas as they sat side by side, arms about one another's shoulders.

Many minutes passed before Hermes stepped eagerly around the corner and into the room. His eyes took in the two boys in the pool...and he stared at them for a little while before he spoke in a quiet voice. He was still bad at controlling the emotions in his voice, but the stutter had diminished. Philandros could hear his excitement – and a hint of lust? – as he announced their visitor...Aristogeiton Harmodios.

His oldest friend stepped around the corner, and his eyes twinkled as he watched Philandros start in surprise...then he rose to greet Giton with a smile. "I didn't expect you so soon...is anything wrong?"

Hylas could hear a hint of disquiet in his master's voice...and did he detect a hint of a flush in Philandros' cheeks? He did note the long look which Hermes gave to Philon's body...and detected a stirring beneath the boy's tunic. With a wicked smile, he rose from the water as well, letting it cascade down his body leaving a sheen that merely highlighted his attributes. Very slowly, he got a towel for his master, and began to dry him...and only when this was done did he begin on himself. Hermes watched every move with anguished delight.

Giton reassured his friend that the house was fine...but that a note had come from Solon Callias. He handed the note across, and watched as Philon broke the seal with a nail. He watched as his friend read the note...scarcely needing to mouth the words – he had always been a better student than any of them – and Giton wished he had had part of that skill at school.

Philandros went pale, and would have fallen if Giton and Hylas hadn't stepped forward to catch him! They lowered him to the bench, and Hylas got a cup of wine from the table for him to sip. "Philon – what is it? Is someone ill?" Giton tried to take the note, but his friend's grasp on it was like iron, unbreakable.

After a sip of wine, Philandros looked about him, and gave a despairing cry: "Oh Giton – it's worse than that – it's absolute disaster!"

"Someone is...dead? Not your grandfather or mother, I hope!"

Philandros handed him the note, which he scanned – lips moving as he read the words:

...Dearest Philon: Your mother and I will be coming to visit you in Pompeii next market day...as we have heard nothing of you except the breakdown of Tellus and his flight. Your mother is worried sick that something has happened – though I am sure you are fine. I hope you are taking our discussion to heart...and hope progress has been made! Love, Solon Callias....

Giton looked puzzled. "I don't see the problem..." Philandros gestured at the scene around them, and sank back on the bench, resting his weight against Hylas.

Hylas' voice was hushed in the silence of the bath. "Giton...his grandfather doesn't know about any of this: Sextus, Green Acres...the fact that he and Philandros are lovers..."

Philandros moaned. "Oh, it's worse than that...I told grandfather I'd find a girl friend and that I'd present him with heirs one way or another! Giton, you must stay tonight – help me come up with a plan! You were always more ingenious than me!"

By that remark, Giton knew his friend meant 'devious'...but he took it as a compliment...there was never any real harm behind his deceptions! He would find some way to help his friend...that was what friends were for, after all!

Hylas' voice was almost inaudible, as he handed his master a fresh chiton. He hated to say this, what with the other troubles, but he felt his master needed to know this...and needed to know it now!

"Master – something will have to be done about dinner...Sextus has arranged a private dinner for just himself, Arrius – and Memnoch!" The distaste in his voice was clear.

Sextus refuses a seduction attempt by Memnoch; Hylas tries to tell Philon again that Memnoch is evil, to no avail...he trusts Sextus, and Arrius will be at the dinner with Memnoch. Hylas says Arrius will be as tempted by Memnoch as anyone.

In all honesty, Philandros' own thoughts about Arrius were along similar lines...but he really should chastise Hylas for saying such a thing! He had just started to do so when Giton's remark caused him to start laughing...and the three boys were all in fits when Hermes reëntered the room.

"Master Sextus and Memnoch are coming...." His warning came just minutes before the three older men entered, to be greeted by the sight of three red-faced greeks. Sextus' eyebrows raised at the sight of the newcomer...whose travel-stained clothes barely concealed a fine set of muscles. He wondered just what else might remain hidden.

"Are you leaving, my love? And who is our newest guest?" Sextus inclined his head toward Giton. As Philandros introduced Giton to Sextus and the egyptian, the men clasped hands firmly – Sextus found himself testing the boy's grip – and found it surprisingly strong for his years. Giton noted that Memnoch, after an initial glance, did not meet his gaze, but rather his eyes sought out Hylas who had finished folding towels and was standing just behind Philandros.

"We are just having a bath before dinner...would you stay to assist us Hylas?" Sextus' voice was it's usual light tone – he was more interested in Giton than his offer to Memnoch at the moment.

Hylas looked from Sextus to Memnoch, then at Philandros, searching for any way to get himself out of this situation. He did not want to be anywhere near Memnoch...the merest glance from the man made him feel unclean...but he could not refuse without endangering his position in Sextus' eyes. He pressed slightly closer to Philandros in an unconscious attempt to disappear. Philandros looked at him and smiled in reassurance.

"Ah...dinner! I hear that the two of you are dining with Arrius; since that will tie up Hermes, I will need Hylas to serve Giton and myself in the smaller triclinium..." He saw that Sextus was about to say something, and so he added: "Also, I have had some distressing news from home which Giton has brought...and I will need his help for several days at my house in Pompeii – I hope that will be alright?"

Sextus' face clouded for a moment, then he remembered that Olaf was an excellent hand with a sponge, and nodded. "Is someone ill? Anything which I can help with?" his voice was all gentle concern, for he wanted Philandros to be happy above all else.

Philandros kissed him passionately and with great enthusiasm – was this to remind him of their bond, or to counteract the influence Memnoch might be weaving – Hylas wondered. He was relieved that he would be away from Memnoch...even if the time was only a few days! Much could happen in that time....

"Well...this means I am going to have to open up my house again, despite the risks...so I will need my three servants back...and the loan of the white mare again..." Sextus nodded again...in actual fact, he would be glad if Archelaus left – the man was spoiling the naturalness he liked in Hermes – though the house had run smoother in the past days than ever before.

Philandros kissed him again, and ran his hands down Sextus' back until they gripped his hips, where they dug in and pulled the two of them tightly together. Philandros rubbed his body slightly against that of his lover in an unspoken but still undoubted promise of later delights.

"I have much planning to do with Giton over dinner...I will join you afterward in bed – please don't stay up late talking with our foreign friend..."

With a final embrace, Philandros led the way out to the atrium and the northern dining room, Hylas following on his heels...and Giton bringing up the rear – glancing back over his shoulder at the well-built form of his best friend's lover. Alas, they were beyond sight before Sextus removed his clothing and slipped into the water with Memnoch and Renius.

Hermes offered to get Olaf, but the egyptian refused with a dark look, so Hermes wielded the sponge himself.

Giton lagged behind as the three boys headed toward the atrium...he had hoped for a chance to see Sextus in his natural state, but was disappointed. He had admired the strength of the roman's grip...as much as he had disliked that of Memnoch. Sextus had that quality which he liked most: a natural grace and good body which he had obviously bettered with time. Oh, Giton liked girls well enough – he had tried them on occasion – but there was something about a nice set of muscles which excited him more than anything else...and Sextus had that in spades! He hurried his steps when he heard Philandros call for him to catch up.

The smaller dining room had been repaired, but the walls still had patches which needed painting to match the original decoration of garden vistas. Philandros took a seat on the lowest position of the couch after pulling the table closer to it, then motioned for Giton to take the seat of honor at it's top. Hylas left to arrange dinner, and while he was gone the two boys talked of Sextus, Giton enquiring of how they had met, and what the status of their relationship was. Philandros blushed as he answered, and was relieved when Hylas returned. He pointed to the center position between himself and Giton, and the three of them sipped wine until the dinner began to arrive a few minutes later.

Over the first course of eggs and vegetables, Giton told of his plan. "This is just a start, but we must get you away from Sextus for a few days...and, oh – find a girl to play the part of your special friend!"

Philandros' face went blank; he didn't know any girls – either from Herculaneum, or here in Pompeii – except for Arrius' friend Dianna Terentius...and he doubted very much that she would have any part in a plan which didn't involve Arrius. He looked to Hylas to see if he had any ideas, and smiled when the boy gave an exaggerated shudder and his face took on a sick look of distaste. It was only then that the other part of the plan occurred to him! Keep his distance from Sextus – for days? – there was no way he could manage that...and even if he could, what possible excuse could he give to accomplish this impossibility?

"Giton...I don't know any girls..." his voice was anguished.

The other boy thought for a moment: "Well...Arrius runs the finest brothel in town..." at the look of utter horror on his friend's face, he shook his head. "No, that won't work – and we can't pick one up from the street either...I have it!" He thumped the table so hard that their wine cups nearly spilled. "We will buy a girl at the slave market...nice, educated...and we can promise her a few denarii when the plan has succeeded!"

Talk ceased as the main course was brought in: chicken roasted with a honey-citrus glaze...and Giton continued once the serving man had left. "She will play the shy girlfriend...until your grandfather leaves!"

Philandros stared at his friend as if he was mad. "But...Giton! That's not right...to treat a girl that way...even a slave!"

Giton reached across Hylas to thump Philandros sharply on the head. "Idiot! If you had been honest in the first place, we wouldn't have to be dishonest now!"

Philandros blushed at the rebuke, and rubbed his head in mock agony. "You're right, dearest Giton...it's my fault! But – how do we contrive to keep Sextus away for the time we need?"

Giton looked at him for a moment, then said: "What...I have to have all the ideas?" He smiled at Hylas for support, and his mind went back to the brief contact their bodies had had as he leaned over to thump Philandros. He hoped that the boy's arm would heal quickly, so that he could spend time teaching him to build up what could be a very nice body indeed. Hylas smiled back, his grin changing to one of obvious mischievousness. "Master...I may have an idea – you send a note to Sextus saying that I am sick – something catching – that should keep Sextus away for a few days..."

It was at this point that Arrius Flavius strode into the room, looking about until his eyes lit – and lingered – on Giton. "I...was looking for Sextus and Memnoch; I heard voices and thought they might be in here! Who is our guest, Philandros?"

As Philandros introduced the two, his mind was whirling...did Arrius overhear? Are we undone before we have even begun? "Arrius Flavius, this is my oldest friend Aristogeiton Harmodios...he is watching my house, and has brought me some distressing news which I must deal with for a short time..." Even to him, the words sounded rushed...he only hoped the roman would not notice.

"You're not going back to Pompeii? It is very dangerous there now...what does Sextus think of this?" his voice was anxious. He realized that he was still grasping Giton's hand, and slowly released it.

"Oh, Sextus knows...I will have Hylas and Giton with me...I think we will be safe enough." Arrius shook his head, and walked out of the room muttering to himself. "It's risky....very risky..."

When his footsteps died away, Giton looked at Philandros worriedly. "Do you think he heard?"

Philandros shook his head, as did Hylas...and the three agreed to leave in the morning to set their plan into motion. Once the meal was cleared away, the talk moved on to general topics: local events, empire-wide news, philosophy and the theatre. As the evening wore on, fatigue overcame them, and Giton suggested a game of kottobos before they retired; Hylas set a bowl on the floor by the far wall, and the three took turns trying to toss the lees of their wine into it – Giton won, being more used to the strong wine they were drinking.

As the three started for the stairs, Giton wondered where he would be sleeping...he had not been assigned a room. Philandros would be sleeping with Sextus, Arrius was unavailable...and something about Memnoch did not appeal to him. The matter was resolved when Hylas offered to share his room with their visitor. Giton readily accepted, and Philandros kissed each of them deeply before heading up the stairs to Sextus' bedroom.

Hylas led Giton to his room, and closed the door softly behind them. He sat down on the bed to remove his sandals, and was surprised when Giton bent down to do it for him with a smile. Hylas returned the favor, then blew out the lamp as he lay back on the bed, feeling the bedding shift as Giton settled next to him.

Sextus is suspicious about events, and gets Hermes to tell him that Hylas and Memnoch are enemies, and that Memnoch plans to take advantage of the roman and relieve him of his money; Memnoch confronts Hylas alone and threatens him to stay quiet or get sold.

It was morning when Giton awoke; he was curled up with Hylas in such a way that their limbs were completely intertwined, bodies pressed face to face like kittens. During their lovemaking...which Giton had to admit taxed even his strength and ingenuity...he had taken the slave twice – and to Hylas' complete amazement, been taken by him as well. Giton suspected that never in his life had Hylas had that privilege, always being the passive one in a relationship...but it was Giton's philosophy that pleasure be shared equally – what made one a man was not the position taken in bed, but rather the way one treated others.

He stared for some minutes at the beautiful face opposite his, then realized he should get started preparing for the trip into Pompeii. He kissed the cute nose before him, and breathed softly in Hylas' ear. "Time to get up, dear Hylas..."

Hylas stirred and muttered something, and stretched luxuriously. Giton disentangled himself gently from his partner's embrace with a kiss. "I need to bathe before going into town...come on, you can help me!" With that, Hylas' eyes flew open, and he was out of bed seconds after Giton had reached the door. The two raced for the bath, and dove into the slightly chilly water – the furnace hadn't had time to heat it properly yet.

Time seemed to fly as the two took especial care in washing one another...before they were done, water was splashed all over the floor, but they didn't care! Towelling themselves off was a lengthy process as their hands took much time exploring once again the delights of their bodies – hidden earlier by darkness. Giton was very pleased to see Hylas close up in the morning's light – the boy would take to exercise just as he had himself – the boy was possessed of a natural athletic frame which just needed some work. Giton walked back to Hylas' room with his arms wrapped around the boy...and they chatted about the coming day as they dressed. Giton would ready the cart for the trip, and arrange for Archelaus, Grumio and Corinna to be ready...Hylas could rouse out Philandros and get what he needed for the trip.

"I'll see you in front of the villa about the fourth hour...with luck, Philandros will be awake by that time! That boy was always a late sleeper – even before he had Sextus to delay him!"

Giton left to arrange for the cart, and to warn Archelaus to ready himself for a return trip to Pompeii – the man was quite put out, as they had only just settled into Sextus' household – and what would become of his training of Hermes? The boy was improving, but still lacked a good deal of polish and expertise in household management! Giton brushed that aside with a wave of his hand.

"We must set up house again because Philon's family is visiting...and they don't know of his current arrangements – and the idea is to keep them happy and ignorant until they return to Herculaneum! So...we have to find a girl to play the part of his...sweetheart – understand?" Was Archelaus too old to change, or just enjoying his new-found position as overseer?

Archelaus nodded, a smile crossing his face at the prospect of a challenge. He nodded, and set off to get things in train for the trip. "I'll have us all ready and waiting in the cart, master Giton...never fear!"

As Giton was getting a bit of fruit and some bread for breakfast, he grabbed a jug of water and went into the small dining room. He had finished both before long, and was making a plan of action for the day: first, set up the house again, get provisions, then off to the slave market to find a girl...that part might take a while as he didn't have a clue what Philon might like...and he chuckled that that was really the least of their worries! Very likely, he had no idea himself – and could care less so long as she agreed to the part. He heard Sextus come down later, but he still saw no sign of Philandros – should he go up to fetch him, or wait for Hylas to do it? Speaking of which, where was Hylas?

Seeing as it was still early, he went to the stable to check on the cart and the packing...at least he would be outside waiting for the trip into Pompeii, with or without Philandros – or Hylas.

Endings Of A Sort

As mentioned elsewhere, this story began on the Ancient Worlds website in conjunction with other writers. That site is now off-line, likely permanently. The host's servers were hacked, but the files for the AW site were unharmed as their own particular server was too old to be affected by the hackers. Sadly, the host company went bankrupt, so AW had no home, and I was told the entire site's coding needs to be reworked so it can be put on a modern server.

This particular story was set in Pompeii just before the eruption of 79AD, and was ongoing for about fourteen years. There were at least six writers involved in this story, but I can only reproduce my own parts—hence the summaries of the others' work. They were all talented writers, from Europe, America and even an Australia, I believe at one point. I miss working with them as we all became online friends.

The characters of the story are mostly what we'd call 'gay' today, though such distinctions were unknown in the Ancient World, where sex was looked on as a good thing for men to practice as part of a larger camaraderie of mentoring. It wasn't uncommon for men to have both wives, and lovers who were males. By and large, the only social stigma attached to male to male sex was for an older man to be the receiver of anal sex, as it put him in a less powerful position in relation to his partner.

Regarding Slavery…it wasn't uncommon in the Ancient World for parents to sell their children into servitude when they couldn't afford to feed them, or you could wind up being sold yourself for debt…or as a captive in a military action. This was NOT a permanent condition, unlike in more recent centuries; a man could earn enough money from doing odd jobs to pay off his owner, and thus become free…and then, he could rise in the social scale as far as his talents would take him, some became valued aides to Roman Emperors. In any case, a Freedman—whether he paid off his debt or was freed by his master—could become very rich, and all children later born to any Freedman, would become a citizen with the right to vote—and pay taxes.

By the end of the Vesuvius story when AW vanished, there were dozens of characters and ten or so writers…so it was hard to keep track of who wrote which ones—I myself had five main ones running around Pompeii, and that wasn't uncommon for the other writers too.

Here's what I recall of the major characters:

Philon and Sextus had their ups and downs in their relationship, but stayed together with only occasional dalliances by one or both. Philon eventually married to please his grandfather, and had twin boys, but he never lived with her, visiting only to see the boys, along with Sextus.

Giton became a major character who found his own lover in time.

Hylas and Hermes had various adventures and lovers, with Hylas eventually getting his freedom, but Hermes decided to stay with Sextus' household.

Arrius had adventures and occasional lovers, but in his heart still was torn about his love for Sextus.

Olaf became a great asset to Philon's house, developing a talent for painting which he turned into a business painting frescoes…in the end, he was freed by Philon, became a trusted friend-lover, and stayed in his villa even when he was freed.

Memnoch's evil nature was eventually discovered, and he left Pompeii, and probably Italy as well, having not gained the riches he sought.

Along the way, we met gladiators, booksellers, politicians, soldiers and decadent aristocrats who used people for their own ends….pretty much what you'd find in the papers today…and just as common two thousand years ago.

If Ancient Worlds ever returns, I'll try to take up the story again…fingers crossed.

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