Title: Fateful Night

Author: Amy Fortuna (peacefulpassion@hotmail.com)

Rating: R

Category: Angst, POV

Disclaimer: Nothing in Gladiator belongs to me. Darn.

Archive: GoingGreek, GladiatorGrrls, and anywhere else that wants it. If I might not know about your archive (don't have it on my links page), please email me with the URL before you archive this.

Series: Possible first in a two-part series.

Spoilers: Spoilers for Gladiator.

Summary: Cicero's POV of the events in the beginning of the movie.

Feedback: Thumbs WAY up.

Warnings: This is slash. Contains very vanilla sex. If these aren't your idea of bliss, don't read further.

Notes: My URL for Gladiator Slash is: http://www.geocities.com/gladslash

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I heard those words that condemned you and yet I cannot believe them. I am alone, all alone, in this dizzy world without you, only the tenous thread of your words holding me here.

I clasped your knees last night, after you said that we might not be able to go home after all, and entreated you to say further. You raised me to my feet and kissed me for answer, whispering against my lips as we parted, "Come to bed."

And under the blankets, hands sliding across my skin, you told me in my ear, accompanied by tender kisses and harsh breathing, that the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, had asked you to assume the powers of the Emperor after his death, but only until the Senate could regain full control of the government. That, the Emperor felt, would lessen the corruption of Rome.

I listened in silence as you touched my body, touched the scar I'd taken for you, touched everywhere, the marks of my devotion to you making me writhe as you caressed them with fingers and tongue.

And I kissed you back, mouth moving against yours, not as smoothly as I would liked, but you didn't seem to mind. I moved over you, hair falling into my eyes, as I whispered that your decision was mine, and I would follow you to Rome or to the ends of the earth.

You said only, "My loyal one," wrestled me laughing beneath you, and kissed me long and hard, our erections sliding wetly together.

After I had returned to my own bed, many kisses and caresses later, I snapped awake at the light that entered our tent.

You left hurriedly with Quintus, and I rose and dressed quickly. Something must be afoot in the camp, I thought, to drag you out of bed in the middle of the night. Well, my lord, whatever it was, I would be waiting for you here.

But after a few minutes, you returned, anxiety written across your features, ordering me briskly to fetch the Senators Gaius and Falco. Glad I'd dressed warmly, I moved to obey you -- and was pushed aside by Quintus and several praetorians entering the tent. They arrested you, holding you back; I seized your sword and saw you shake your head at me. "No resistance, love," you mouthed at me -- and instantly shattered your own words when Quintus said coldly, "Your family will meet you in the afterlife." You leapt at him, I leapt too, but was thrown back to the ground, the sword in my hand. I sat down hard, head pounding, and they hustled you out of the tent.

Quintus turned to me then, malevolence in his eyes.

"Slave," he said, "you've got a choice. Swear loyalty to your new Emperor, Commodus, or share your master's fate."

I hesitated for the merest second. I could not allow Marcus Aurelius' dream to die, if I was the only to know it.

"I swear loyalty to the Emperor, then," I said. But "The *true* emperor," I spoke in my heart.

Quintus smiled. "Very well then. I'll allow you your life. You could be my servant," he added, a trace of a smirk in his voice.

I shook my head wearily, and he, thank all the gods, left the tent.

Numb with grief and cold, I got up from the ground, and gathered your precious things together, preparing to leave this place.

Dead. You'd be dead, lord-love. I picked up the figurines of your wife and child, feeling a strange forboding fall over me. A band of praetorians galloped past on some errand, and suddenly I knew where they were bound. So your family was doomed to die too.

How had I escaped the blood-purge? Quintus' fancy, I suppose. I cringed against the thought of that man touching me the way only you had.

I sighed. The world was pale to me without you in it. For a moment the carving-knife looked like my destiny; I reached for it to plunge it into my breast, but drew back. No, not yet. Not yet.

Instead I picked up a small piece of wood, and tried to carve a figure of you, but my hands, clumsy with cold, snapped it into several bits.

Brushing the broken wood away, I saw morning's light begin to come into the tent. I knew then that you were dead.

Gathering your *penates* together, I began then to prepare for the longest journey of my life.

To Rome I'd go, and do what I could to carry out the true Emperor's dream.