Siri and Sevastian
There were suitable places in town.
He didn't want to stay in town. Didn't want to stay in lodgings filled with sycophants wishing to curry favor with him or though him to gain the ear of the Empress.
It was enough to give a man a headache.
They were camped outside of Alesia. Oddly enough, the site of Julius Caesar's victory over the Gallic peoples. If one didn't know that fact, it was proclaimed by the bronze statue of Caesar in the city center.
By his order, it was destroyed. Caesar was dead and best forgotten.
Leaning back against the tree, Sevastian stretched out his legs.
The weather was perfect, bit of chill in the air, but not uncomfortably cold. By the light filtering though the trees, he could read the various intelligence missives sent his way by Autolycus. Thanks to the spy's work, Sevastian knew the major players in the area. Who he could work with, who he could push out of the way, and who needed to be eliminated.
Dread from the populace. No one wanted him appearing on their doorstep.
Bad things followed.
This camp, set up deep in the forest, was far removed for the bustle of Alesia.
He appeared to be alone.
Out there, amongst the trees surrounding him were 4,000 Amazons. A guard who traveled with him as he fulfilled the Empress' directives. While he felt no protection was necessary, the will of the Empress reigned supreme. If you had to accept protection, there was none better than Amazons. They were the single best fighters in the known world. Only a fool would dispute this. Fact. He recognized the politics of this arrangement. Ephiny commanding her most elite of Amazons to protect him was an expression of loyalty to Xena.
The Amazons astonished all who saw them. It was quite a spectacle when they entered a town. Onlookers awed into a frightened silence at seeing Amazons in full regalia. Before them stood women who were intelligent, strong, capable, confident… and kind
The warriors would never admit to it, but Sevastian had witnessed many subtle acts of kindness. Assisting a farmer in fixing a wheel on a broken cart or, helping a sheep herder corral a wayward flock. Once he came upon a group of Amazons playing hide and seek with a group of village children.
"Alright, I killed em' you cook em."
Speaking of awe inspiring Amazons.
"Of course." he smiled up at Siri.
"You don't cook." Standing, Sevastian moved to take the ducks from Siri's hand. "These are beautiful!" he said after a quick appraisal. "Make for a fine dinner I think. Thank you for getting them."
Hearing his praise and thanks, put Siri in a mood to want to bag every duck in Gaul. Though she'd never tell him such.
Taking her hand, he brought it to his lips for a brief peck of a kiss.
A simple action on his part, one that caused Siri to feel such love for him. Love, the likes of which she scarce imagined she'd ever feel. Especially for a man.
Placing her bow and quiver of arrows near, Siri loosened the ties of her leather armor.
Quickly, Sevastian moved to place his back to her while starting to work. First step was to cut away their broken wings. Once that was complete he began to pluck feathers.
A knowing smile from Siri.
Even after they'd bedded, Sevastian's innate sense of decorum was still intact. Siri had no problems with being bare, no Amazon did. The body was a gift of the gods, formed in the likeness of the gods. She had come to understand that he didn't intend his action to be taken as a slight, rather it was meant as a show of respect.
Placing her leather armor on the ground, Siri proceeded to pull on woven top and comphy old leather bottoms. For now she felt it best to leave her boots on.
Taking a seat, she watched him prepare her dinner.
Perhaps it was an effect of the love she felt for him, she liked to watch Sevastian as he worked. Everything he did, he did with a certain exactness.
And he did do things in a unique way.
Take something as simple as cleaning feathers from the ducks. He used wax, melting it in a pot of water warmed over a fire. He'd already removed the large feathers of course. When the bird only had the down feathers left, Sevastian would then dip it in the warm wax, then move to dip the bird in cold water. The wax would set and once it had he would gently peel it off, revealing a completely clean bird.
"Without me you'd starve." She loved nettling him.
"I did find a means to feed myself before we met."
"The first time I laid eyes on you, I believed you to be far too thin."
"Didn't say I ate well." He laughed.
She watched, as he deftly sliced the bird open, he proceeded to remove the entrails, sure to waste nothing. The heart, liver, and feet would be cooked in already simmering sauce. He stuffed the birds with apples and chopped celery, onion, along with a bit of spice. All item's Sevastian had procured in Alesia. He didn't know it, but Sevastian had gained tremendous respect in the eyes of her Amazons. He always insisted on paying fair rates for needed stores. Never did he take from local proprietors, though he easily could. Who would dare say no to him?
Siri watched as he added some small potatoes to the pot. "I am terrible at cooking. Mother always said I must partner with someone who could cook, though I don't think she ever envisioned it being a man."
Sevastian looked up and gave her a smile. "I've never minded cooking," he placed the ducks on the spit to roast. "Some men, well most men, refuse to cook, but I had Kodi to take care of and…" his voice trailed off.
"You do it well, beloved." Her compliment pulled him from sad thoughts.
"Thanks." Standing, he moved to clean up a bit, then sat near the flames in order to turn the spit.
It wafted over to her, the wonderful sent of simmering sauce and roasting fowl.
By Artemis! It smelled good! Siri snagged her sword and began cleaning the blade to take her mind off a rumbling tummy. Course, being an Amazon she was tall, but his cooking had definitely increased her strength.
She reflected on that a moment.
Tall is a very relative term.
In the Amazon village, tall was normal. Only when she'd gone out into the wider world did she notice the height differential between Amazons and the weaker peoples. One had to get used to banging knees on the undersides of table, scrunching into chairs. Then there was the constant need to stoop down for doors and such. At times her back hurt so much she needed Sevastian to…
She stopped sharpening her sword for a moment, a smile playing on her lips.
"Yes?" He looked up from reading various missives, one of hand gently turning the spit the duck were on.
"Would you consider giving me a massage after dinner?"
"Certainly." He went back to his papers.
"I promise to make it worth your while."
For a moment Sevastian gazed at her, then understanding dawned and he blushed.
Siri chuckled and went back to sharpening her sword.
Judging the birds to be well seared by the flames, Sevastian used his dagger to slide the ducks off the spit and into the pot filled with sauce. Placing the flat cover on, he then used a small spade to shovel some hot embers on the lid. Setting the pot on some coals marked the end of the difficult work, now all he need do was wait for the birds to finish cooking.
Shuffling parchments, looked over various reports on the grifters in Alesia. Undoubtedly some would need to be… dealt with… as a lesson to others of like mind.
The sun was setting. Sevastian stood to get some plates. In this case, wooden ones, carved by the Amazons and gifted to him. Greeks preferred to crudely spear their food, while he preferred to use hashi, to dine with. It amused Siri to see him eat with sticks, as she called them
"Almost time?" Siri asked hopefully while finishing up cleaning her leather armor. She then moved to place her sword near.
Big thing, her sword, cleaver like, could cut flesh and break bone with ease.
Sevastian knew this having seen Siri in action.
"I believe so." He set plates atop a flat stone, he proceeded to open the pot by running his dagger through the lid and lifting up.
Siri scooted near, kneeling by the fire, watching as Sevastian skillfully carved up the birds, and plated them
She knew from time spent with him, that he was signifying great respect by serving her first and himself second. That was not how it was done in the world of men.
Siri looked at her plate and then his.
"You eat like a bird."
He was puzzled by this, causing her to smile. It was a well-known saying among Greeks, not so for a man who spent his formative years in the east.
"Means you eat very little." She made a point to glancing down at her plate, then looking at his.
He laughed, "I don't require much."
She tucked into her food, knowing it was his custom to wait for her to begin dining first before he started. Another one of his little quirks to show respect for her providing their meal.
She sighed in pleasure after the first bite.
Sevastian chucked. "Good?"
She surprised him by leaning over and giving him a peck on the cheek. "Delicious!"
A relieved smile, he was glad she liked it.
"Still enough left to have stew tomorrow morning." Sevastian scooted the iron pot near the dying embers of the fire.
"I'm going to have to increase my exercising if you keep cooking like that."
He laughed, "I don't think you need worry." The Amazon fitness regimen was incredibly demanding.
He was cleaning up and packed everything away. Not allowing her to do one thing, a trade off in his words she'd done the hunting, least he could do was cook and do the chores round the camp.
Siri felt she did one more important task.
She never told him this.
Men have their pride after all.
She lay on her furs, he giving her a most wondrous massage. Another of the skills he'd learned in the east.
"You spoil me, Sevastian." Siri was so relaxed, she didn't wish to move, but…
"C'mon you." She sat up, then moved to lean back against a tree near the fire. Gently she slid her feet apart, guiding a blushing Sevastian back against her.
His innocence was endearing.
"I'm not hurting you am I?"
"No." she burred softly, her breath tickling his ear.
Sevastian leaned farther back against her, loving the feel of her bare skin, luxuriating in her warmth.
"Not uncomfortable?" He rested one arm on her upturned knee.
"No." one of her arms moved round him, "Just relax." When he reached for another missive, she took the parchment from his hand. "No more work, no more duties to perform this day."
"I do have- his voice revealed his fatigue.
"No you don't."
"Perhaps, you're right. I'll wake before the dawn and…and…
She watched as his head slowly came to rest against her bicep. He'd drifted into sleep.
These were the moments to be cherished, No Lord Commander was present, nor was the Chosen of Artemis. It was Siri and Sevastian.
"How I love you." Whispered into his ear.
Siri pressed a finger to lips. Imploring, the tall figure standing nearby to remain silent. Whatever needed to be said, could be said tomorrow.
Empire and Empress, could wait.
Right now, he was hers alone.
After a saucy wink at the Amazon, Xena turned and vanished back into the darkness.