When In Rome
I'm going to have him, this king. He's beautiful, but the reason I want him is his coolness towards me, his disinterest. He keeps his distance, not just physically but mentally. He studies me to know how best to protect his kingdom from me, looking for weaknesses although there are none to find. That's why he's come to deal with me personally rather than treaty by proxy. He wants to know my intentions. But it's Caesar the leader, the strategist, he's studying, not Caesar the man. That piques me. As does his arrogance. It's unconscious. If it were deliberate, I'd have had him removed by now. I won't brook competition or defiance. But his arrogance, his remoteness from me, are the things that make me want him. I want to have him, to own him and break him to my will before I replace him with my own puppet ruler in Corinth. I can't afford to let him live - he's too strong. But he's no immediate danger, and I want him to be mine before he dies, to be obsessed with me the way they all are in the end. I want his surrender.
I rise to greet him as he's ushered into the changing room. He's dressed in light linen pants and soft cotton shirt. That's what I mean about his arrogance; he knows that it's an honour for him to be invited to join me at the baths, but he wears no ceremonial garb.
He looks around him, openly curious. I smile as I realise this is all new to him. He doesn't know what to expect, and I haven't told him; I want to see his honest reactions. That way I'll learn about him, I'll learn to read him better. He's a little uncomfortable when the slaves undress us, but allows it, then stands still while they oil his body. I can see he's uneasy at the intimate attentions of their hands running over him so I start to talk to him about the play he saw as my guest two nights ago. I don't want to bring up anything that might put him more on his guard than he already is. He's reassured by my conversational tone, the way I'm reacting to these attentions as though they're as natural as somebody combing my hair.
Once we're both ready, we move through the other door into the exercise room. Empty of course; when Caesar uses the baths, all others are evicted. He looks around again, taking in the equipment that's set out, seeing that it's no different from his usual Greek gymnasia. He stands in the middle of the floor, sunlight streaming in from the high windows to shine in his hair and gleam on his oiled body. I stand a little way from him, and begin to stretch, to warm my muscles. He does the same, and as he does so, my eyes move appreciatively over him. When clothed, there was the suggestion of beauty, but naked, he's magnificent. His legs are long, strong thighs and an ass which is the closest thing to perfection I've seen in a long while. The play of powerful muscles sliding under his skin as he stretches his arms above his head and starts to bend sideways, first one way then the other, is mesmerising. It's part of what attracts me so, the mixture of beauty and strength. There's no challenge in conquering weakness.
"Wrestling?" I offer him. "Boxing? Weights?"
I know his answer before he gives it; his eyes betray his enthusiasm.
"Marcus." I don't need to raise my voice; he's waiting for the summons. Of course. I see Iphicles' surprise as Marcus enters the room. Did the king really think he'd wrestle me? Surely he can't be that naïve. The very last thing I would ever do is give anyone the opportunity to best me in anything; it might put unhealthy ideas into their head.
Marcus bows low to me, then briefly to Iphicles. He knows my moods as well as anyone does; a glance at my face as he straightens tells him what I want. I want this one to be tested. I want to see if he's as strong as he seems, or whether he'll give under pressure. I want Marcus to push him.
I retreat to start working the weights, and watch them preparing, smoothing sand over their hands so they have some purchase on oiled skin, and then taking a few moments to size one another up. They're of similar age and weight, although Marcus is taller. It's Iphicles who makes the first move, but they're not really trying yet, they're still feeling one another out, testing for the speed of reflexes, finding out how the other moves, how they use their weight.
By the time I pick up another, heavier, bar, they're fighting for real. Locked in an almost silent struggle, pitting their weight against one another, feet digging into the floor. Good. Iphicles is the challenge I thought him to be. Marcus is going to have to work to defeat him. And he certainly does have to work; that Greek king doesn't seem to know when he's outclassed by a Roman. They carry on until I'm bored of the weights and they're both breathing hard and sweating, muscles and tendons standing out in sharp relief as they strain to hold one another. Finally the inevitable happens, and Marcus flips him, pinning him to the ground beneath him. I watch and see the king finally capitulate, his body relaxing as he realises he's been beaten. Marcus' teeth are bared as he draws his breath in. He's enjoyed this, but he loves to win.
"Yield?" he asks the king. A redundant question, he obviously thinks. The king's no longer fighting him. Almost before it's out of his mouth, Marcus is tipped sideways, the sudden surprise in his face overlaid by fury as he realises he's been suckered. Iphicles has twisted and is now on top, grinning down in satisfaction.
"Yield?" he repeats, holding Marcus still. The anger in Marcus suddenly disappears and he starts to laugh. I watch in approval to see that Iphicles is ready for the same trick he's just used, and not one of his muscles relaxes until Marcus admits, "OK, I yield. Corinthian bastard!"
The king moves off him and gives him a hand to his feet, and they grin at one another before Marcus bows low to me and leaves.
Iphicles looks over at me, a light in his eyes. He's pleased with himself, but there's also a delight in the physical nature of the struggle. He enjoys using his body. Good. So will I.
I continue with the weights for a few moments longer, letting him watch me, before I put them to one side. I tell him to put on the sandals waiting at the door before we go into the next room. He's still not certain what to expect, but as he precedes me in, it makes sense to him. The room is hot, the floor beneath his sandals is also warm. He turns, and when he sees me sit down on one of the stone ledges, he copies me.
I sit in silence, studying him. He returns my gaze. I can see he doesn't know what to make of me. That's a start anyway; I think it's the first time he's thought of me as a person. Good. I get abruptly to my feet, even though we've only just settled, and lead him through to the next chamber. I hear the indrawn breath behind me as he follows me in and the door closes behind him. Even after the acclimatisation we've just been through, walking into this heat is like walking into a smith's furnace. I suppose it's quite a sight the first time as well, steam swirling and writhing through the hot air, condensing and misting. I sit on one of the stone benches, which have had thick layers of fresh linen laid out over them. He copies me. I remain silent, waiting.
He tries to sit there as unconcernedly as I do, but I can see the sweat forming and beginning to run down his body. His curls are starting to cling damply to his forehead. I watch a bead of sweat run down his neck, tantalisingly smoothing over the hollow of his throat, before running with unerring instinct down his stomach straight to his cock. I follow its path with my eyes, and see the way his thighs are wet with sweat.
As time passes he breathes more quickly. Then he begins to move slightly. He leans back against the wall behind him, and as quickly sits bolt upright again; the walls are pretty near as hot as the floor. He's blinking now as the sweat rolls down into his eyes, and I see him briefly lift his hair off his neck in a vain attempt to cool himself. That's when I see it for the first time - angry bruised skin, blood close to the surface where he's been bitten. Hard. It wasn't there two nights ago. I know that because I watched him shake his hair back as he laughed at a line in the play and I looked at the smooth skin of his neck and imagined sinking my teeth into it. Somebody since then. I can't see any other marks like that on him. There are some bruises, yes, but he exercises with his guards each morning, swordplay which often descends into grappling. I'd assumed they were from this. Now I look at where those bruises are and it makes sense. His wrists and lower arms, one on his left hip, on his thighs. He's been fucked. Held down and fucked hard from the looks of it. My incompetent spies assured me that no one else has been seen entering his quarters, at any hour of the day or night. They'll live long enough to tell me why they've failed me.
He's heavily flushed now, and breathing hard, his lips parted, damp tendrils of hair clinging to his neck. His chest rises and falls quickly. He shakes his hair back again and I can see him swallowing. He's determined not to give in, not to show weakness in front of me, but he has no chance. I can spend as much time in here as I need to; it's something I've learned to do. I started it because I would not be beaten by anything, and then I realised, as I slowly began to outlast all my erstwhile bathing companions, that it was another way of impressing weaker men with my strength of will. So I sit and I watch him try to match me. He's determined, this king. I'm going to enjoy breaking him.
I can tell from experience precisely when my guests reach the limit of their endurance. Just before he gets there, I move to my feet.
"Shall we?" I say.
He sways slightly as he stands up, then he's opening the door and we're moving into the adjoining room, the warm air of which feels almost chilly after what we've just been through. He follows my example and remains standing.
"So Caesar," his voice is a good attempt at conversational nonchalance, if one ignores the sweat that's practically pooling at his feet, "You do this every day, do you?"
"Once a day is all I usually have time for," I tell him apologetically.
That hits the mark. I smile as I see the look in his eyes. He thinks I'm mad, that's obvious, but there's a definite flicker of interest. He wants to know why I put myself through what to him, so far, has been torture. He'll find out, I think, with a thrill of anticipation. And I want to be watching his face as he does. In the meantime, I enjoy knowing that I've caught his interest.
The slaves are beginning to scrape the sweat and oil from me. Hard. They know I like it that way; I like them to do it so hard that it feels like they're taking a layer of my skin off. I watch him as two naked slaves do the same for him, seeing the pleasure on his face as the sweat and oil is removed. Because I'm watching him closely I also see the slight quiver through his body when he looks down to see the dark-haired slave kneeling before him, running the strigil down his thighs. He looks away again immediately. But I note for future reference what caused this reaction. He likes to dominate, does he?
The slaves are now scraping my back, and I push into it. This is my one self-indulgence and I love it. I let it happen now, I relax into the hard rhythmic movements, and my cock begins to swell. He's too lost in the strangeness of this whole experience to notice at first, but then he suddenly sees, and he looks away quickly. I'm surprised - I hadn't figured him for a prude. But my lips curve as I see the way his nipples are beginning to raise under the dark slave's attentions, and I realise he's not a prude, but a man trying for control.
Finally they're done, and I lead the way to the next room, bright sunlight from the windows blinding after the torchlight of the hot rooms. As I step out of the sandals, I notice that my cock is still half-erect, but I know that'll disappear when I hit the water.
I plunge into the pool and turn quickly to see the expression on his face as he copies me.
Is that what he'll look like when he comes, I wonder - frozen in astonishment as nerve endings go into overdrive?
"It's fucking freezing," he tells me in outrage.
I turn over onto my back and float in the small pool. "But doesn't it feel good?" I ask him.
He pauses for an instant, then begins to grin. "Yeah," he owns, before ducking under to let the cold water stimulate every part of him. He surfaces again in a surge of water, shaking his hair so that sparkling droplets spray in a glittering arc around his head. "So this is why you Romans do this," he marvels.
I smile back at him. This is the most natural I've seen him yet. It's working. And I know how he feels, the pollution, the impurities of life, taken away. It's like being reborn. The sheer power that runs through me when I feel the cold water on my new skin is incredible. I know I can do anything.
He follows me when I get out of the pool. "What now?" he asks.
Good, he's eager for more.
"Now we relax," I tell him. His eyes widen slightly as we enter the hall containing the bath. Its high vaulted ceiling, the walls with their intricate mosaics, and the sheer size of the pool are all impressive to a non-Roman. Again, when Caesar bathes, it's empty, except for a few naked slaves waiting to respond to any of my wishes. The sun shines through the high arched windows, the sounds of the city penetrate but are oddly muted, and it's as though we two are the only men in the world.
I walk down the stone steps into the water. He follows me and I turn to watch his beautiful body being slowly hidden by the water as he moves in deeper. I relax there in the warmth, watching him. He pulls himself underwater again, and I imagine him wantonly opening to the caress of warm water as it plays over every inch of his skin. The look of ecstasy on his face when he surfaces again tells me that I was right. He's evidently deeply sensual, another piece of knowledge I store to use against him.
We stay there for a while, luxuriating in the sensation of the water, before I climb out again. Once again, seemingly reluctantly this time, he follows my lead. I seat myself on the high-backed stone bench in one of the alcoves, a rich purple cotton cloth thrown over it to absorb the excess water as it drips from my skin. He pauses, then at my signal, joins me, sitting beside me.
"So what do you think of our customs now?" I ask him idly.
He laughs slightly. "Oh this is one I could definitely get used to," he agrees.
"Good." My eyes linger on his face for just an instant too long, to underline my meaning. He looks away from me, but not before I've seen a tiny spark in his eyes. His body is so ready now, so primed to react to physical sensation, that he can't fight it.
I hold my hand out to one of the slaves for a flask of oil. Then I stand up. He looks back up at me questioningly, about to get to his feet.
"Lie down." I indicate the bench.
There's a sudden wariness in his eyes. He doesn't fully trust me. Good - that's going to make this more fun. But I can also see that slight excitement is still there in him.
"We haven't finished yet, Iphicles," I tell him.
He doesn't want to offend me by cutting short the custom he agreed to try. He lays down on his front, head on folded arms. I pour some oil straight onto his back, without warming it first. I want his body to continue reacting to different sensations, to extremes. He tenses as the cool liquid touches his warm damp skin, and then I slide two fingers into the pool of oil on his back and start to ease them across his muscles. I use soft strokes, barely enough for him to feel, until there's a light coating of oil over his entire back. Then I take my hands and start to smooth it in to his skin. My hands warm the oil as I work and I can feel him begin to relax under my touch as my hands move slowly up his shoulder blades, to the tops of his shoulders under his hair, then slowly in circular motions down his back, and over his ribs. He's starting to enjoy this.
I work on him for some time, then one of my oiled hands slowly strokes over his ass. He jolts, and is suddenly rigid under my touch. Good, he really doesn't trust me. I take up the flask and let more of the cool liquid flow onto his skin at the base of his spine, sliding smoothly and coolly down between the cheeks of his ass.
I can feel the tension in him, what it's costing him not to spring to his feet and ask me what the fuck I think I'm doing in case this isn't what he thinks it is.
"So Iphicles," I start, as my hands begin to move over his ass, smoothing and rubbing, no different from my touch on his shoulders. "Do you think this is a custom you'll introduce to Corinth on your return?"
He relaxes slightly as my conversational tone reassures him that what's going on is perfectly normal.
"Possibly," he says. His tone of voice is matter of fact, but I can feel his increased heartbeat. "But as you know, we don't have slaves, so I don't know -"
He stops suddenly as one of my fingers traces the path the oil took. I keep it light, don't pause anywhere, then I spread his ass further to massage the oil in everywhere.
"Why do you have slaves for the first part but not for this?"
I can almost feel his frustration at the clumsiness of his question. He daren't ask me what the fuck I think I'm doing in case this is truly part of the bathing ritual, but it's so intimate that he can't let it pass without challenge. And I'm delighted to see that he's quite obviously not thinking straight; he's not stupid, he wouldn't usually have come out with something that crass.
"You can have a slave now, if you like," I tell him.
His body moves slightly under my hands. Good - the double meaning excites him. His legs are parted in mute invitation as my hands move over his firm smooth flesh, one finger again tracing lightly and intimately, before I pour more oil onto my hands and begin to work my hands up his thighs. No smooth massage here, instead, regardless of his bruises, I press my hands hard against him, running them up and down his thighs until they too are gleaming with oil.
I stand there for a moment, looking at him. "Turn over Iphicles," I invite him.
He's still for an instant before he slowly does so, and when he's on his back I can see why he paused. His cock is swollen and rigid, full and thrusting for release. I make sure that he doesn't see me looking; instead I start to run my oil-slick hands across his chest, ensuring my fingers, then the palms of my hands, rub across his nipples, again and again. I pretend to concentrate on what I'm doing, but I can feel the rapid rise and fall of his chest as his breathing quickens, and see his face, see the way he's biting down hard into his lower lip to try to stay in control. I slide my hands lower, careful to avoid even an accidental touch of his cock, then to his thighs, and begin to stroke up between them, oiling the sensitive skin of his inner thighs. He almost makes a sound, opening his legs further to encourage me. My hands slide slowly over his smooth skin, lingering as they explore.
My own cock is aching by the time I've finished, and I can see liquid on the tip of his. I turn away to take a soft cloth from a slave. Iphicles wants me now, but it's not enough. It's only a physical reaction. I want him to need me, Caesar, not just to seek physical relief. I want him to come to me, and ask me to take him. I want to use him and break him and to have him know what I'm doing to him but be unable to resist me. This is simply the first move in that game; rush it, and the satisfaction's gone.
I turn casually back, wiping my hands on the cloth. His eyes are on my cock as though hypnotised.
"So now you've had the full Roman bathing experience, what d'you think of it, Iphicles?" I ask him conversationally.
He's off-balance, but only for an instant. He pushes himself up into a sitting position again, making room for where I'm evidently about to sit down beside him.
"As you said Caesar, it's fairly unique."
Oh yes, the drawl in his voice, the humour. he's a challenge I'm going to enjoy. Maybe even then, when I thought I had him, I'd underestimated him. I'll do well to remember that wrestling trick of his.
"How did you get these, Iphicles?" My hand lightly touches his thigh, tracing one of the bruises. "They look rather nasty."
His eyes definitely reflect suppressed amusement. He thinks I don't know he has a lover. "Can't remember," he dismisses. "I must have banged something."
I touch him a moment longer then move my hand away and gesture to one of the slaves, opening my legs to let him kneel between them and take my cock in his willing mouth. It surprises Iphicles. I let him watch for a moment, let his arousal grow further, before I speak.
"If you'd like one Iphicles," I offer, the wave of my hand encompassing the slaves dotted at intervals around the pool. They're all beautiful, but it's a poor substitute for me. I'm going to make him want me like he's never wanted anyone before. I'll find his lover and dispose of him. Then I pretend that I'd forgotten his provincial Corinthian attitudes about slavery, rather than that I was deliberately tempting him. "They'd all be happy to oblige," I reassure him as the slave's moist mouth moves on me. "Well, you can see for yourself."
His gaze lingers. I'm telling the truth; they love to see me in action. All of them are in some state of arousal, cocks filling further as they see Iphicles looking them over.
"Only if they agree," he tells me.
He takes his time selecting one - is he picky, disappointed, or just teasing them, I wonder - but finally his eyes stop on the one closest to him, the dark one from earlier. As Iphicles beckons to him, he walks over, muscles rippling gracefully as he moves, his huge cock proud and hard. I watch him kneel before Iphicles, his dark eyes on the king's. Impertinence. He'll have to be disciplined.
The king's hand wraps in the slave's long hair, holding his head up so their gazes continue to meet.
"Only if you want to," he tells the man.
Even if the slave didn't know what his life was worth, I don't see how he'd have been able to refuse the inviting smile that's hovering on those lips. By way of answer, his hand reaches to stroke Iphicles' cock. I frown briefly. Such presumption won't go unpunished later. But for now, it has the effect I want. At the slave's touch on his hot flesh, the king's legs open further and he slides down in his seat. Then his head's going back and he's moaning uncontrollably as the slave deepthroats him. I'm a little surprised by the force of his reaction; I didn't know he was *that* ready.
I turn my attention back to the mouth on my own cock, to the teeth which are grazing me deliciously. Iphicles' abandoned groans of pleasure close beside me are beginning to excite me and my hands bury in the slave's hair, forcing him deeper on me as the king thrusts up, moaning and gasping, so close to coming. I watch the slave's head moving up and down on him, the king's hard cock sliding in and out between full lips, watching the beautiful hard flesh, wet with saliva, hear the sounds as it moves in and out of the wet mouth, hear the king's wordless moans, and I imagine how it would have been if I'd given in to temptation and fucked him this afternoon, burying my enormous cock in his ass, again and again until he's writhing under me the way he's doing under the slave's mouth, begging me for more. The king's groaning helplessly, thrusting wildly and calling on the names of his gods as his cum spills from him into the slave's willing mouth. Suddenly I feel my own release as my cum fills the mouth around me.
The king's boneless, sprawled beside me while the slaves get to their feet and retreat. Again, I'm surprised by the intensity of his reaction; his control when I was touching him must have all been an act. He must have been even more turned on than I'd realised. I file that away for future reference.
I give him a minute, then I get to my feet. I've got things to do, the declaration about my Imperial status to work on, spies to execute, that sort of thing. He follows me back to the changing room, a smile still tugging at the corners of his mouth all the time he's being dressed.
I look invitingly at him when we leave the building, an unspoken promise in my eyes.
"Tomorrow?" I ask him. I'm confident of his reply; today went precisely as planned.
"I wouldn't miss it, Caesar," he tells me.
I watch him as he turns and walks away from me and I smile to myself. I've got him hooked.