Title: 'I, Commodus' Part II

Author: Anna Rousseau annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk

Fandom: Gladiator

Genre: Drama/Tragedy

Rating: PG-13

Set: Post-Gladiator

Summary: Ridley Scott has signed up for a Gladiator sequel, and this is my interpretation. After Galen's healing, Commodus lives and reclaims his title of Emperor. However, there are concerning matters to attend to in the Northern reaches of the Roman Empire, Caledonia, and Lucilla is not content to see her brother remain Emperor of Rome.

Historical Notes: See Chapter I

Note: Simply my ideas fitted loosely around the history of the real Emperor Commodus. Ancient History scholars beware; I may be slightly inaccurate!

Disclaimer: Gladiator is not my creation, I am merely borrowing it. Joaquin Phoenix is not mine either, but I'd be his if he wanted.

'I, COMMODUS' - PART II

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AD 184

ROME

THE FORUM

Lucilla's robes brush over the marble slabs that line the floor of the forum, worn to smoothness since the construction of this monument to politics when Rome was declared a republic. Her face is pale, her eyes wet. Grief seems to have kept her awake at nights, tormenting her as a child who plays with a butterfly's wings, unaware of the damage that it is causing.

Her steps are quiet, only the whisper of silk heard as she mounts the dais in front of the senators and sits upon the carved wooded seat reserved for the Emperor.

"Senators," she says, her voice measured and steady they bow their necks in acknowledgement. "What matters have we to discuss, the agenda if you please Senator Caecilius."

A man of middling age with grey hair stands, a wax tablet in hand, his purple edged toga straining to conceal a rounded stomach. "The Senate has been informed by General Octavius in Britannia of increased attacks by the northern barbarians on Hadrian's war."

Lucilla raises an eyebrow at these tidings; her eyes however are less insouciant. They dart over the faces of the old men surrounding her, waiting for an answer. Delegate responsibility or try to feign knowledge of the right course of action, her face seems to read.

"Senator Ciaus," she finally says, rearranging her stole across her shoulder, guarding herself against a draught. "What is your opinion on the matter."

"Oh, yes, please do tell us."

The disembodied voice echoes around the forum as all other murmurs and movements cease. A voice as smooth as a forked serpent's tongue. The senators look at each other questioningly. Lucilla's vermilion mouth parts and her pale face flushes with panic and she jumps up from her seat, her stole falling to the ground.

She turns to pick it up but instead sees the phantom of her dead brother, his blanched face bruised across the forehead and in his hand her aquamarine stole as he leans lazily against a column.

Lucilla's mouth lets escape an anguished cry. She takes a step backwards; her foot slipping from the dais and her weight only just caught by Caecilius.

Commodus twists the length of silk in his fingers, his moss green eyes focused on his sister as if she were the gazelle and he the tiger. "Please tell us what your opinion is on the betrayal of Caesar."

His voice rings about the forum as he pushes himself away from the support of the column and pads over to Lucilla as she stands unsteadily next to the senator, each step for him is calculated according to the resources of his physical strength and the plan for revenge he has devised.

"Caesar, we thought you dead," Caecilius says, his voice low and his eyes cast downwards.

Commodus stops at the side of the senator and sweeps an appraisatory glance over his face. "I was not aware that you were a physician, senator. It is fortunate that at least my own doctor is loyal to me." He circles them as if he has trapped them in a web, catching Lucilla's chin between his fingers and turning her face towards him, her eyes still wide with terror. "And that is most welcome after you are betrayed by your sister, your senate, your Empire."

Releasing his sister, Commodus looks over the Senate, his anger concealed by a calm exterior, the flat waves hiding riptides. "Not only do you disobey your Emperor, humiliating the position of Caesar held by so many of my forefathers, you also fail to care for your wounded leader. I return to Rome to find Maximus mourned, and so little attention paid to Caesar that you do not know whether he is alive or dead."

Unexpectedly, a laugh breaks forth from deep inside Commodus' throat. As suddenly as it appeared, it is gone again, and his lips are set in grim resolve. "The Commodus you knew would have had you all killed for such treason, and the Praetorian Guard are ready and willing to execute these demands if I wish. However, this need not happen if you abandon any schemes you might have for the opposition of my leadership."

Dropping Lucilla's stole from his fingers, he lets it fall down over her body and to her feet. He stares at her intently for a moment as her eyes meet his, an air of defiance shining deep within. Commodus' face reddens and he turns to the senators.

"Why do you not bow to your Caesar?" he barks, eyes aflame with venom.

The Senate rested as Lucilla's gaze swept over them daring them to obey her brother. "You are no longer the Emperor, Commodus," she says coolly, her eyes avoiding his as he turns on her like a serpent.

"Your son is but a usurper, Lucilla," her brother replies tipping her chin up violently so their eyes met with a clash of fire and ice. "Commodus Caesar lives, despite your best efforts."

"You had no right to live," she hisses, wrenching his hand from her face, now suddenly unafraid to look upon his face, its sickly pallor ghostlike, as Julius Caesar when he appeared to Brutus on the battlefield.

Commodus' voice is as low and deadly as the rumour of thunder on distant plains. "Everyone has a right to live, dear sister."

"But you made an exception for Maximus, I presume."

Lightning breaks across his face as the storm crashes over him. "Do you dare defy me once again as he did?"

She is silent. Her answer is given.

Commodus' teeth are gritted as he turns his eyes from Lucilla to the Senate. "Traitors shall meet a fate akin to his, so that any who mourn him may share his company once again. Let it be known that Commodus is Caesar, and bear in mind the punishment for betrayal if you have yet more designs on my life."

Pushing his sister aside violently, he leaves the forum, his steps weak but determined, an icy silence enfolding the Senate as they are left in open-mouthed stupor.

Commodus Caesar lives.

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Please R/R, I know that some of you must still read Gladiator fic!

annadelamico@yahoo.co.uk

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